Switched at Birth: Two Russian Families Discover They are Raising Each Other’s Daughters


This story starts off like countless others; a couple, Yuri and Yuliya Belyaeva gets a divorce.  Yuri has suspected for years that Yuliya has been unfaithful to him.  Let’s face it, his daughter Irina looks nothing like him.  So, Yuri refuses to pay child support and Yuliya takes him to court.  The court orders a DNA test and that’s when the story takes a turn.

Yuri Belyaeva…you are…NOT the father.

But there’s more.

Yuliya isn’t Irina’s mother either!

“I had never thought carefully about my daughter’s looks before,” Yuliya told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.  “And then when this happened I tried to recognise my own and my former husband’s features in her.  There was not the slightest resemblance.”

A little digging turned up the cause.  The Belyaeva’s 12-year-old daughter had been accidentally switched, by midwives at the hospital, when she was born in 1998.  Their biological daughter, Anya, was growing up with another family, in a nearby village.

The girls were born 15 minutes apart, in the same ward.  Their mothers were both listed under their respective maiden names, both beginning with the letter A.  The midwives inadvertently switched their wrist-tags.  That’s just sloppy filing.

The girls have been made aware of the mistake and have each chosen to stay with the family they have bonded with.  It’s a tricky situation.

Yuliya found it particularly difficult to reconcile herself to the idea that her biological daughter had been raised a Muslim, instead of growing up in the Russian Orthodox tradition.  The families have put differences aside, however, and are becoming friends.

“We will become friends, introduce our daughters and they will become sisters to one another,” Yuliya said.

Anya and Yuliya speak on the phone every day, now.  Yuri has accepted both girls as his daughters and is now making his child support payments.  It seems that the families are prepared to make the best of things.

The maternity hospital isn’t getting off Scott free, however.  Both families have launched substantial law suits against the hospital for “moral trauma.”  The statute of limitations has passed to bring criminal charges against the midwives who made the error.  It has been 12 years since the mistake took place and the prosecuting lawyers admit that the odds of winning compensation are low, but they have to try. – Jen R, Staff Writer

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About the author

Jen R

Jen R should have been a spy; she would have been really great at it. Instead, she has found limitless happiness raising a future international man of mystery. She is a writer, a maker of suppers, a kisser of boo boos and a finder of lost things. She would always prefer to watch politics than sports and will never watch a soap opera...ever.

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