Planet China

Separated at birth

Errors at hospitals have seen babies heading home with the wrong parents. But from such a disastrous error in Zhejiang province two couples have worked out a much more positive relationship.

According to Shanghai Morning Post, the mix-up happened in September 1983 when Cheng Chengfei and his wife Ji Guohua gave birth to a boy at a hospital in Suichang county. The nurses brought them back the wrong kid, swapping the newborn with a boy born on the same day in the same ward to a couple surnamed Li.

The mistake went unnoticed although Cheng started to have doubts when this son started looking completely different to him as he grew up.

The mix-up came to light only when Cheng’s sister, a kindergarten teacher, told him that a four year-old boy in her class looked almost the same as her brother. The Chengs then came into contact with the Lis and after a blood test the couples discovered they had been raising the wrong son for four years.

Amazingly the hospital paid each couple just Rmb1,000 in compensation (imagine what you’d get from a lawsuit in the US for a similar screw up). And viewing the situation more as a blessing in disguise, the families – who live just a block apart – agreed not to swap the boys back and effectively raised the two kids together as part of a bigger family. The boys have since grown up. Both are married and their wives recently gave birth to a baby boy and daughter. Their grandparents, however, have decided to take care of their own biological grandkids this time around. “Let’s not pass the mistake to the next generation,” Cheng told Shanghai Morning Post.

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