Yesterday a Russian court awarded two families $100,000 in compensation after hearing a court case where two babies were switched-at-birth.
The two couples involved, now both divorced, have each been raising a daughter which is not their own biological child according to DNA tests. In the aftermath the families have been facing the realization their two daughters were switched at birth.
A few months ago, the two families learned their daughters had been accidentally switched at birth 12 years ago. The two girls, Irina and Anya, were born 15 minutes apart in December 1998 in the town of Kopeysk, an industrial area located in Russia's Ural Mountains region.
For over a decade the families were unaware of what transpired in the hospital so many years ago, and it was not until one of the fathers refused to support his daughter, claiming she was not his child.
Yuliya Belyaeva's ex-husband, during divorce proceedings, said his daughter was not his biological child, and turns out he was right. However, the results were not quite what he had thought, the DNA testing proved neither mother nor father was the parent of the dark-haired Irina.
Belyaeva suspected her daughter was switched at birth in the hospital and went straight to authorities to demand an official investigation. Investigators tracked down Irina's natural father, Naimat Iskanderova, who was living in a neighboring down with Anya, Belyaeva's biological daughter.
The parents quickly realized by seeing the resemblances in each child that they must have been swapped somehow at the hospital when the girls were newborns.
Once the discovery was confirmed each girl said they do not want to leave the parents they've been raised by and the parents will continue to each raise the daughters they believed were their own biological children.
The Associated Press reports, "The money just can't ease the pain," said Yuliya Belyaeva, the biological mother of one daughter, Anya, who raised another couple's child, Irina. "All the money in the world isn't worth a child's look at their mother." Anya is reportedly having a difficult time accepting her biological mother's love.
Reportedly the ex-spouses were not in the courtroom and have not made any statements in regards to the court's decision. Speculation is that this may change because the compensation award is very large by Russian standards.
What the families will do now has some uncertainty, but the families are considering using some of the money to either live near one another as Belyaeva would like to do, or even share a home as Iskanderov prefers. Either way it seems clear both parents want to be close in proximity to both girls and develop relationships.
According to the Daily Mail, the two girls have grown close to one another and Irina said, 'We were a bit shy at first but we're now the best of friends.'
In 2008 a switched-at-birth case in Germany resulted in the seven-month-old babies being returned to their biological parents.
Daily Mail reported, "Hellgard Rauh, a psychologist in Potsdam near Berlin, predicted there would be no mental damage to the daughters. At half a year, babies could quickly adapt to new adults and forget where they had been previously."
However, in the case of the Belyaeva and Iskanderova families, 12 years is a long time. Based on reports, it seems to have been a difficult transition with emotional distress now that the truth has been brought to light.
The nurse identified by Belyaeva as being on duty that fateful day, Nelly Prokopyeva, told Russian television, "I know it was not me who did it."