When This Mother Saw Her New Baby’s Face, She Immediately Knew That He Wasn’t Hers

Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
Richard Cushworth and Mercedes Casanellas welcomed their first child – a little boy – in May 2015. His mother had given birth in her native El Salvador, before returning home to the United States. However, as she watched her baby grow, she became convinced that he wasn’t hers.
Image: Facebook/Pastora Mercy Casanellas
Cushworth and Casanellas have both known struggles in their lives. For instance, Cushworth had spent some 20 years of his life battling drug addiction, including reliance on alcohol, cocaine and heroin. But he finally turned things around after attending Teen Challenge – a drug rehabilitation program with a Christian focus.
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Image: Facebook/Pastora Mercy Casanellas
After finding God, Cushworth went to bible school at the Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. And it was here that he first met Casanellas, who was attending the evangelical organization as a foreign student. The couple married in 2012 and traveled to Casanellas’ native El Salvador to work as missionaries.
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
But while the missionary had managed to conquer his addiction, as well as find love, his troubles were far from over. You see, while in El Salvador, the apartment he’d been renting in Dallas was gutted by fire, and he lost all his possessions. Meanwhile, Casanellas had survived a gun attack after being set upon by a gang of five shortly before her move to the United States.
Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
Eventually, Cushworth and Casanellas returned to the United States, settling in Dallas once more. And in May 2015 the couple were set to become parents, with Casanellas giving birth at the Ginecologico hospital in El Salvador. Interestingly, this was thought of as one of the best private health facilities in the country.
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
And Casanellas delivered her baby via an emergency Caesarean. She was handed her newborn son, Jacob, briefly before he was taken to spend the night in the hospital nursery. Recalling that special moment in an interview with the BBC in 2016, Casanellas said, “He was just passed by me and I gave him a kiss, and then he was taken to the nursery and that was the last time I saw him.”
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The following day nurses returned Jacob to Casanellas. And when he was four days old, Casanellas left the hospital and reunited with Cushworth who’d flown in from Texas. Then they spent three months in Central America before returning as a family to their home in the States.
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Back at home, as the weeks and months passed, Casanellas and Cushworth bonded with baby Jacob. Yes, his mother nursed and cared for him, but all the while she struggled to shake a niggling doubt from her mind. You see, she felt her baby didn’t look like her or her husband, and this led her to wonder whether Jacob was really theirs.
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In fact, Casanellas’ first doubts had emerged in the hospital, when Jacob was handed to her the day after his birth. She later told the BBC, “When I saw him the first impression was, this is not the same baby that I saw last night. I looked at him, and I remembered that the baby that I saw was just like my husband, and this baby did not look like my husband.”
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Unsurprisingly, Casanellas raised her concerns to the hospital staff. But they assured her that the baby she’d been given was definitely hers. To further ease the new mom’s worries, nurses told her that she’d been heavily medicated when she’d briefly seen Jacob for the first time. In other words, she couldn’t rely on the first memory she’d had of her child.
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So with the nurses telling the first-time mom that the child was hers, she had little choice but to believe them. However, she continued to ask her friends if they thought there might have been some kind of mix-up with her baby. But everyone assured her that Jacob was hers.
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
For the time being, Casanellas tried to put her worries to the back of her mind. But they didn’t stay buried for long. In her interview with the BBC, she said of Jacob, “The days started to go by and his features, his skin, everything started to change. And he started to not look anything like neither one of us.”
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At this point, Casanellas’ feelings for Jacob were confusing. She explained, “I was nursing the baby, I was taking care of him, loving him like ours, and I started to fall in love with the baby… You love this baby like your baby but then inside, I had the thought, ‘What if this is not my baby?’”
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Painfully, Casanellas tried to ignore the doubts over whether Jacob belonged to her and Cushworth as much as possible. She even kept her worries from her husband, who had no idea that his wife was wrestling with the idea that their son may not be theirs. Instead, the new mom secretly took a DNA test to get to the bottom of the matter once and for all.
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And when the DNA results came back, Casanellas discovered that she had a zero percent chance of being Jacob’s mother. Yes, she’d been right all along. Describing her reaction, Casanellas told the BBC, “I just fell on the floor.” Fighting back tears, she also described, “The pain, the thought that the baby I had been nursing, taking care of, loving him, bathing him, that he was not mine.”
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As the missionary tried to process the news, her thoughts turned to the child she’d given birth to back in El Salvador. What had happened to that baby? An emotional Casanellas told the BBC, “So I had two thoughts – what is going to happen with this baby and where’s my baby?”
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So the new mom was overcome with emotion, and Cushworth soon found her crying on the floor at home. Furthermore, he had no idea what had happened, and Casanellas didn’t know how she would break the news to him about Jacob. Casanellas explained, “I couldn’t even speak for minutes and minutes.”
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Eventually, Casanellas told Cushworth about the DNA test and what it had uncovered. Revealing his reaction to the news, Cushworth told the BBC, “I was just overwhelmed and confused. I didn’t even know how to process [it]. I remember the first trauma to me was, ‘Oh my goodness, I have a child and my child is somewhere out there in the world. Where is he?’”
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Prior to the bombshell DNA test, Cushworth had no inkling that Jacob may not have belonged to him and Casanellas. He explained, “I just accepted it as my child. Now I look back at the pictures, right around the time that we came to Dallas when he was three months old, and I’m shocked that I never suspected because you can see that it’s just obviously not my child.”
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Using the benefit of hindsight, Cushworth continued, “I don’t know how I didn’t ask myself… you just, you don’t think about these things.” Meanwhile, his wife added, “We were in love with the baby, even when I did the DNA test, I thought that I was betraying him.” However, she added that she simply couldn’t live with the doubts she had over Jacob’s parentage.
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Like Casanellas, Cushworth had a multitude of questions regarding his biological child’s whereabouts. Recalling some of them to the BBC he asked, “Where is he? Who’s taking care of him? What happened to him? Why did this happen? Am I ever going to see him again?.” He added, “I just felt like a panic that my only child was lost or stolen, I didn’t know what it was, and that was the concern.”
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After those initial thoughts, Cushworth took stock that the baby they were raising might be taken away from them since he wasn’t really theirs. Strangely though, he revealed that he and Casanellas had hoped they might be able to keep both boys. However, as reality sank in, they knew that this was probably impossible.
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The new father told the BBC, “Our hope in the beginning was that we would find our real child but we would also be able to keep the one that we had raised for three months, and that we would have two children, was our hope. But I remember that I was the first one that started saying, ‘You know, if this child has a legitimate family we’re going to have to give him away.’”
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
Therefore, it seemed likely that Jacob had been mistakenly given to Casanellas from the hospital nursery, the morning after the birth. So to get to the bottom of the mix-up, DNA tests were carried out on the children who’d been born at the hospital in El Salvador on the same day as Jacob. And that’s how Casanellas and Cushworth found their biological child.
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But the couple’s joy at being told their son had been found was mixed with feelings of grief that they would have to give up Jacob, whose biological parents had also been identified. Casanellas recounted how she handed over the child she’d grown to love in her emotional interview with the BBC.
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As tears fell down her face, Casanellas recalled, “We got there and we had to rush. We were rushed in. We have to go quickly, just bring the baby and we barely got time to say goodbye. I got all his clothes and we took him in the office and we handed him in. And that was the most difficult part, I think, of all the situation.”
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However, while the pair were heartbroken to be handing over Jacob, they were also overjoyed to finally reunite with their real son. Recalling that moment, Casanellas told the BBC, “We finally saw him and when he saw us he was smiling, he was laughing.” And touchingly, there was a moving coincidence that the parents couldn’t explain, too.
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For you see, when the couple swapped Jacob for their son, both babies seemed to slot right into their real families. Casanellas explained, “We didn’t know each other (the two families), we don’t know anything, but the babies, when we took them and we switched, they each were dressed like their fathers. It was really nice.”
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So after that, Casanellas and Cushworth named the biological son they’d been reunited with Moses. And the name was inspired by their faith, coming from the Hebrew prophet who also went missing for three months. In fact, the couple insisted that it had been their Christianity that had helped them get through the whole episode. Yes, Cushworth told the BBC, “God has helped us and comforted us through the process.”
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But while the parents had reunited with their son, their ordeal wasn’t yet over. In order to leave El Salvador and return with Moses to the States, the couple would first need to produce a birth certificate for their son. And obtaining this documentation proved to be a lengthy process for the family.
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Indeed, so to help them find the correct paperwork, Cushworth – who was born in the United Kingdom – turned to the British Embassy for help. And he was assisted by ambassador Bernhard Garside, who would later tell the BBC that the swapping of the babies was “the easy bit” compared to what followed.
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That’s right, because Garside explained, “When we first got involved it looked very much like an uphill struggle… My fear was we weren’t really going to see a happy conclusion to this.” However, he said that with some “old fashioned diplomacy” he was able to help the couple navigate the Salvadoran court system.
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In 2016 Garside revealed to the BBC, “What took time was unravelling the legality of all the birth certificates – and making sure the right parents were recorded with the right children.” However, the parents’ efforts finally paid off, and Garside was happy to have helped. In fact, Cushworth referred to him as “an angel.”
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Speaking to British newspaper The Independent in 2016, Garside said, “From a family perspective, this has been very, very tough. This is every parent’s nightmare. The bureaucracy of the El Salvadoran system always seemed to conspire against them, but with the help of the Supreme Court judge and some good old-fashioned diplomacy we finally managed to get leverage, and we got the result we wanted.”
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
Now, it had taken nine months and almost bankrupted Casanellas and Cushworth, but in summer 2016 they finally got to take Moses back to the States. And Jacob’s family got his birth certificate at the same time the American citizens got Moses’. So the two families used the opportunity to meet once more – in a more relaxed environment.
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Cushworth revealed to the BBC, “We spent about two hours with the other family, took a lot of pictures and videos.” When asked if they’d like to remain a part of Jacob’s life, Cushworth responded, “I think so, and I would certainly hope so.” Meanwhile, Casanellas added, “We would like that.”
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In the meantime, the parents continued to bond with their son Moses, making up for the time they’d lost in his first three months. Casanellas revealed, “It was beautiful, it was a blessing of God. I got to nurse him too, without any problems. He adjusted, he never cried… [He was] very peaceful and happy and smiling.”
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
Meanwhile, the couple were still awaiting answers as to how their child was swapped with another in the first place. Garside, the British Ambassador who’d helped the couple, said that Salvadoran authorities, “have concluded their investigations and found there was no criminal element involved in any of this and it was simply a mistake.”
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Image: Facebook/Bebe Cushworth Casanellas
But this conclusion did little to address Casanellas and Cushworth’s many unanswered questions. Cushworth told the BBC, “I really would love to see justice in this situation… I’d like to know what happened. How did this happen? Because I don’t want to see it happen to another person.”
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Image: Facebook/Pastora Mercy Casanellas
While the truth behind the mix-up has eluded them, all Casanellas and Cushworth could do was assess the difficulties they’d faced and try to move forward. Cushworth explained, “It’s done terrible financial damage and emotional damage to us. But we’re here, we survived… everything is turning out okay.”

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