Staggering story of the babies swapped at birth: Russian parents did not realize they were raising the wrong little girl until she was TWELVE Families discovered mistake after DNA test over paternity questionGirls had been raised by wrong families, one as Christian, one as MuslimFamilies say culture differences make it impossible to switch them backParents now 'share' their children as they try to overcome mix-up
14:34 GMT, 20 February 2013
08:44 GMT, 21 February 2013
Two families have discovered that they have been raising each others daughters after the girls were swapped at birth 14 years ago.
The Belyaevs and the Iskanderovs, from the Russian Urals, only learned the truth after a DNA test was carried out to establish the paternity of Irina Belyaeva when she was 12.
To the astonishment of her mother Yulia and father
Alexei, the results showed the girl they had brought up from birth was not their biological daughter.
Instead, she was the child of Yelena and Naimat Iskanderov, who had in turn raised Yulia and Alexei's girl Anna.
The parents now 'share' their daughters, although they have struggled with how differently their biological children have been raised. The Belyaevs are Christians while the Iskanderovs are Muslim.
(Left to right) Naimat with daughter Anna he raised, and Irina by Yuliya Belyaeva. All four were stunned when they heard the daughters had been switched
The children with their biological parents, (left to right) Yuliya Belyaeva with daughter Anna, Naimat Iskanderov with daughter Irina
The horrendous mix-up began when Yulia , 32, from Kopeisk in the Urals and Alexei, were expecting their first baby in 1998, The Siberian Times reported.
Naimat , 36, an ethnic Tajik, married the then 16-year-old Yelena, and their baby was due at the same date.
The two women gave birth to their daughters on December 17. Yulia gave birth at 1.30am to a girl she called Irina, 15 minutes after Yelena welcomed her baby daughter, called Anna.
When both new mothers fell asleep, it is thought that the girls were switched and wrongly tagged as the other.
When the delighted new parents brought them home, questions were raised over their children's looks.
husband Alexei questioned why their daughter had such dark hair and
features, when they were pale and blond, but his wife thought she had
picked it up from other family traits.
Anna, her biological mother Yuliya, and Naimat, his biological daughter Irina. The families stay in touch as they are still reeling from the news
Naimat, Yulia , Irina (left) and Anna all meet regularly, and the youngsters have grown close since the shocking discovery
Naimat did not question why his daughter was as 'white as sugar' and thought his baby had taken after her Russian mother.
The problems began when Alexei became suspicious of Irina, and accused Yulia of cheating on him.
He accused Irina of not being his biological daughter, and demanded a divorce in 2007, accusing his wife of cheating on him.
insisted she had not and, when Alexei refused to financially support
Irina, Yulia took him to court, and a DNA test to confirm paternity was
arranged in 2010.
It was then that tests revealed that
neither of Irina's parents were biologically related to her – she had
been swapped at birth.
contacting the Prosecutor's Office in 2011, an investigator tracked
down Naimat and, with him, Yulia's biological daughter, called Anna.
Yulia's wedding to Alexei, in 1998, broke down after he became suspicious that their daughter was not his
Anna, who believed Naimat was her biological father, pictured as a child. The little girl was finally reunited with her biological mother in 2011
Irina (right) pictured with the mother who raised her, Yulia, and Yulia's other baby
had been blissfully unaware there was an problem and initially refused
to meet with the other family, but relented and met his biological
daughter, who he described as his 'mirror image'.
years on and the families now 'share' their 14-year-old daughters, with
Anna and Irina calling both parents 'Mama' and 'Papa'.
The stark cultural differences
between the two families meant that it would be impossible for the girls
to simply swap back to their biological families.
They have decided to continue raising
each others biological daughters primarily as their own responsibility,
but celebrate holidays and birthdays with each other.
But cultural differences did cause some trouble.
Yulia feared that her daughter would marry at a young age in an organised marriage and she would stop communicating with her.
During a TV show which showed the results of their DNA tests, the girls were upset as they learned of the mistake which changed their lives forever
The families only found out after extensive DNA tests proved the mix up – but they have decided to stay with their families who raised them
struggled to come to terms with Irina's manner of being very open, not
shy to talk to boys, and asking for a lot of hugs and kisses from
Naimat said that no decisions had been made on any of the children's
future arrangements and the families were attempting to be in as much
contact with each other as possible.
He said: 'First of all we live in
the different villages and the second thing is that we have different
cultural background, different religions and beliefs.
'We are just different, but that doesn't prevent us from communicating and spending time together.'
The pair decided to prosecute the hospital for negligence.
were awarded six million roubles each (around $200,000), but they are
still waiting payment because the maternity hospital has no money.
For the full story, visit the Siberian Times.
(Left to right) Anna, who believed Naimat (centre) was her biological father and his blood daughter Irina. The girls have now become friends
Anna (left), her biological mother Yuliya, and Irina (right) are all in touch, despite their cultural differences