A New Mother Knew Something Was Wrong The Minute She First Held Her Baby

Becoming a parent for the first time is a uniquely emotional process. During nine months of pregnancy, you’re buying strollers, painting and decorating the baby’s room, and taking in all of the information you can about your upcoming, life-changing event. Meanwhile, you’re hearing parenting horror stories. But, it could never happen to you, right?
That’s what Richard Cushworth and Mercedes Casanellas thought when Mercedes gave birth to their new baby in 2016. But when she finally got a good look at her newborn son, she had a sneaking suspicion that something was off about him. As time passed, her fears only grew.
After Richard and Mercedes got married in 2012, they moved to El Salvador to be missionaries, then to Dallas, Texas, to settle down. They wouldn’t remain in the U.S. for long. Why? Because the couple was pregnant with their first child.
Pastora Mercy Casanellas / Facebook
A native Salvadorian, Mercedes wanted to give birth in her home country. So, the two flew to a hospital known for its high care standards and excitedly waited for their new baby to arrive. They didn’t have to wait long.
Bebe Cushworth Casanellas / Facebook
Soon, via an emergency c-section, Mercedes gave birth to Jacob. She briefly held him, before he was whisked away to the nursery to be with the other newborns. She wouldn’t get to see her new son again until the next day.
After a few more days in recovery, the new family left the hospital together. They traveled throughout Central America for a few months before returning again to America. This was when the trouble started.
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Time passed, and quickly, Mercedes’ intuition told her something was off about Jacob. As he started to grow, he began to look increasingly dissimilar to his parents. The new mother thought about her time in the Salvadorian care facility.
Fred Ramos for The New York Times
That second day, when she got to see Jacob again, Mercedes told staff members that she didn’t think it was her son. She was assured that she had been out of her mind on drugs when she first held him, so it would feel different now.
ABC News
Though the care team assured her, she had the same baby, now, more than six months later, Jacob really didn’t look related to either parent. Mercedes felt conflicted, “You love this baby like your baby, but then inside, I had the thought, ‘What if this is not my baby?’”
Her worries consumed her, but she didn’t confide in her husband. She had to be sure that Jacob was really hers though, so she independently ordered a DNA maternity test. The results answered some of her questions.
Jacob was not her son. Mercedes was heartbroken. “I just fell on the floor,” she said. “I had two thoughts: what is going to happen with this baby, and where’s my baby?” Finally, Mercedes opened up to Richard and told him everything.
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Richard, too, was devastated. At first, he and Mercedes wanted to keep both Jacob and their biological son, but soon realized that, faux Jacob had his own legitimate family who may have been experiencing their own confusion with the couple’s birth son.
Pastora Mercy Casanellas / Facebook
So, the hospital conducted DNA tests on every child who was born on the same day as Jacob, and that’s how the terrified parents finally reconnected with their child. Mercedes was taken aback by how fast everything was.
Mirror
And then suddenly, they were finally reunited with their biological son. “We finally saw him, and when he saw us he was smiling; he was laughing,” Mercedes said. They were sad to say goodbye to “Jacob,” but knew he was going home, too.
BBC News
Immediately, both of the children fit right in with their new families and according to Mercedes, there was a really cute coincidence, “… when we took them and we switched, they each were dressed like their fathers. It was really nice.”
On Demand News
They renamed their biological son Moses. In the bible, Moses went missing for three months, and the parents thought the name was a perfect fit. Unfortunately for the reunited family, there troubles didn’t end with the baby switch.
Now the couple was fighting a new foe — bureaucracy. Before they were allowed to leave the country, they needed Moses’ birth certificate. Richard, who was born in the U.K., contacted the British Embassy for help.
Grand Island Independent
Bernhard Garside was the representative who took on the couple’s case. He was very concerned about navigating El Salvador’s court system, and for months, he went back and forth with authorities.
@HMAGarside, Twitter
Months piled up. For three-quarters of a year, Richard and Mercedes were living in El Salvador and burning through their money. If they couldn’t get through the legalese soon, they were going to lose their whole savings.
WikiCommons
Meanwhile, before finally leaving for the U.S. again, the family had a reunion with “Jacob” and his bio-family in the summer of 2016. They also went through reams of red tape to obtain their son’s birth certificate.
And while most difficult part of the legal process was confirming that each parent was with the proper child, everything worked out in the end: both families were with their right child. Bernhard was very happy to help the little family work through the process. Each family was, in a way, thankful for the experience.
Wikimedia
Because two families had spent a few hours together, taking plenty of pictures and videos. Each pair planned to stay connected as their children grow up. Though it was a lengthy process, each family got something that made it worth it — their son.
Pastora Mercy Casanellas / Facebook
The family knew they were fortunate to only miss three months of Moses’ life. In March of 1978, Vera Lashtur and her husband, Nikolay, welcomed a new baby into the world: a daughter whom they named Tatyana. It should have been the happiest time of their lives, but for Vera, something just felt off.
All babies have their growing pains, but Tatyana seemed absolutely miserable as an infant. She cried nonstop, and when Vera fed her daughter, the child would struggle and fight against her. Vera hoped this was something that would pass…
But it didn’t pass. As Tatyana grew up, she continued being difficult, moody, and hard to control. However, what Vera didn’t know was that Tatyana actually had a pretty disturbing reason for behaving this way in the first place.
Vera’s family and neighbors had always whispered about the little girl, and now Tatyana was getting old enough that she could start to piece together some of the rumors. What her family believed was something Vera refused to accept.
The rumor was that Tatyana wasn’t actually Vera’s daughter. Instead, gossip led to the idea of Tatyana and another baby being switched at birth! It was so far-fetched that Vera and Nikolay initially refused to believe such an outrageous assumption.
In 1999, Vera and her family were preparing to leave their native Moldova to start new lives in the United States. That’s when a neighbor with very important information finally decided that she had to speak up and say something…
The neighbor told a story about another infant, born the same time as Tatyana, that always cried and was suffering from the same problems when it came to eating. The uncanny similarity was enough to make Vera and Nikolay’s ears perk up…
“She knew us,” Nikolay said of the neighbor in a November 2017 interview with Inside Edition. “She knew the other family, and she knew that both kids were having problems after the hospital.”
Vera and Nikolay weren’t able to find the other family prior to their move from Moldova to the United States. However, any time they visited their home country, they made it a point to search everywhere for potential answers.
In August 2017, there was a major breakthrough. Using social media, Tatyana—now in her thirties—and her sister, Victoria, learned that the name of the other child from their neighbors’ story was Valentina Suman. Tatyana even found Valentina online!
Tatyana and Valentina connected and confirmed what they already suspected: they were born on the same day in the same hospital. They also exchanged photographs, and Tatyana couldn’t believe what she was seeing: Valentina looked just like her parents.
Vera’s son, Anatoliy, still vividly remembers the moment the discovery was made. “My mom asked me to come over. She opened a laptop with two baby photos and pointed at one, asking me to tell her who it was.” He added, “I told her it was Victoria, my younger sister. It looked just like her.”
“We knew in our hearts that [Valentina] was our sister based on the pictures. She looked exactly like my younger sister,” added Anatoliy. But there was only one way for the family to confirm what they all believed to be true…
In October of 2017, both families were invited to appear on a Russian TV show to share their story. While there, they took a DNA test to confirm what they all already suspected to be the truth.
The results surprised no one. “It was the first time we had the opportunity to see our birth sister Valentina and hug each other, cry together,” Anatoliy said. “Also, that day was the first time my sister Tatyana had the opportunity to hug and cry with her birth family.”
So, what happened the day the girls were born? On March 27, 1978, their mothers were sharing a hospital room. The two little girls were taken away to be bathed, and when they were returned, they were accidentally swapped—and no one noticed.
Since reuniting with her birth parents, Vera and Nikolay, Valentina has become an integral part of the family. Her 16-year-old daughter would see her grandparents often, and Valentina even became a surrogate mother to one of her new nephews.
Amazingly, neither of the families had any plans to sue the hospital for this colossal blunder. In fact, they were simply overjoyed that everything was finally corrected and that the girls now had not one, but two families!
In fact, Anatoliy and his newly discovered sister had grown so close that he currently put plans in motion to help move her from Moldova to the United States so that she could be closer to her biological family.
Anatoliy’s relationship with Tatyana hadn’t changed at all, either. She was still his sister as far as he was concerned. “I talked to her, and I told her [that] nothing changes between us. The only difference is [that] I gain a sister. We are brother and sister.” And they’re using other reunited siblings to plan for their future.
1. Jorge and Carlos Bernal Castro and William and Wilber Cañas Velasco: This was a twin doubleheader! Pictured left to right below, Jorge and Carlos, as well as William and Wilber believed they were fraternal twin brothers. As it turns out, there was a mix-up years back at the hospital, and they were actually two pairs of identical twins.
This truth came to light when a woman in a butcher shop mistook William for Jorge, and then showed him a picture of his long-lost sibling. Today, the four men are quite close and view themselves as four brothers.
Natalio Cosoy
2. Audrey Doering and Gracie Rainsberry: Born in China, these sisters were adopted by two different American families. Audrey’s mom later did some research about her daughter’s early life, leading her to a photograph of her birth mother holding two identical girls.
These twins, Audry left and Gracie right, reunited on Good Morning America, and they even got to go on vacation together in San Diego! Everyone they passed must have thought they were seeing double.
ABC News
3. Bobby Shafran, David Kellman, and Eddy Galland: These teenage triplets, pictured from left to right, found each other when they were all coincidentally living in the same area of New York. Though they became inseparable, they found out they were subjects in the controversial study that split identical siblings and watched them grow up in different environments.
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In 1995, struggles with mental illness caused Eddy, middle, to take his own life. A documentary about their life stories called Three Identical Strangers debuted in 2018.
4. Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman: An actress best known for her supporting role in Memoirs of a Geisha, Samantha had no idea that appearing in a YouTube video would change her life.
But after Anais spotted her doppelgänger on her computer, the two connected and confirmed they were sisters. Now, these twins are just having fun making up for all that lost time.
5. Jim Lewis and Jim Springer: These brothers didn’t meet until they were 39, but what was really strange was how much they had in common. Both married first and second wives named Linda and Betty, named their sons James, smoked Salem cigarettes, drove Blue Chevrolets, and had a childhood dog named Toy.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
6. Ann Hunt and Elizabeth Hamel: These sisters hold the Guinness World Record for the longest separation of twins. Their biological mother meant to put up both for adoption but had to keep Elizabeth due to a spinal condition. After decades in the dark, Ann, left and Elizabeth finally met at age 78!
7. Oskar Stohr and Jack Yufe: Not all twins have everything in common. When their parents split soon after their birth, Jack grew up as a Jew in Trinidad and Israel, while Oskar grew up Catholic in Germany. Despite his Jewish family, he even had to join the Hitler youth!
Their first meeting in 1954 was fairly awkward, in large part because of the language barrier. However, they bonded later in life and found they had more in common than at first glance. For example, both flushed the toilet before and after using it.
8. Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein: These sisters reunited at age 35 and discovered that they too were part of a study on separated twins. Paula, right, and Elyse took their story public, and as a result, twins in New York are now required to be adopted by the same family.
9. Debbie Mehlman and Sharon Poset: Debbie’s mom waited until her daughter was 45 to tell her that she was not only adopted but also had a twin. Thanks to a private investigator, the two finally met and found they shared quite a few traits.
One telltale sign that these two are related is that they both cross their eyes when they get excited! Talk about a totally unique trait.
10. Emilie Falk and Lin Backman: Emilie’s and Lin’s, right, adoptive parents were initially in touch with one another, but lost track over the years. By the time they were 29, the girls pieced together the scant information available to find each other on Facebook.
11. Zeng Yong and Liu Yonggang: After a friend of Yong’s met someone named Yonggang, right, who looked exactly like him, Yong tracked down the man and learned they were identical twins. They took their family reunion a step further and located their birth mother, who was living over 1,000 miles away.
12. Anna Kandl and Ella Cuares: These two were adopted by different families through the same adoption agency. The parents kept in touch, not knowing the girls were sisters. However, a striking resemblance between Anna, left, and Ella spurred them to take a DNA test. Needless to say, the results were positive!
13. Howard Burack and Doug Rausch: Both men always knew they were adopted, but neither caught wind that he had a brother. However, a documentary project called The Twinning Reaction reunited Howard and Doug, as well as other “multiples” who never met their siblings.
14. Siam and Fabienne: Two French families adopted these Vietnamese sisters. Years later, Siam’s friend came across a girl on Facebook who looked like her, so Siam sent her a friend request. Though Fabienne ignored the message at first, she eventually accepted. When the news broke that they were twins, we can only assume they got a lot of likes.
15. Jerry Levey and Mark Newman: Both brothers were volunteer firefighters, and that proved to be the vital link that brought them together. A mutual acquaintance, aware of their similarities, put them in touch, and the two hit it off. Jerry, right, and Mark learned they shared a love for Budweiser and were confirmed bachelors.

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