real life

Why I'm happy I was switched at birth

Paula Johnson was raising her three-year-old daughter with her then-boyfriend, but all was not well. He had a suspicion the child wasn't his. He asked for a paternity test.

The results shocked them both.

Not only was he not the father, Paula Johnson wasn't her mother. The little girl she loved and with all her heart and soul belonged to another family and somewhere out there was her real daughter.

Ms Johnson had given birth in the University of Virginia Medical Centre in Charlottesville in the US and went back there for answers. She had given birth on June 29, 1995. The following day Whitney Rogers had given birth to a daughter.

The women had been given the wrong babies in a tragic mix up. The babies had been placed in the wrong cribs after spending time with their birth mothers. Mrs Johnson's biological daughter was living with Kevin and Whitney Rogers.

Then, further tragedy struck.

The day Mrs Johnson was informed of the mix up, Kevin and Whitney Rogers were killed in a car accident. They died not knowing about the mistake.

In 1999 Ms Johnson sued for custody of her biological daughter, fighting with the Chittum's family for years, however after three years of legal wrangling the judge ordered both girls to stay with their non-biological families.

The families organised to meet up, but the commute eventually became too much for the girls and they lost touch.

Rebecca and Callie are now 18.

Ms Johnson - pictured above with Callie, Kevin and Whitney's biological daughter - sued the Univerisity of Virginia Medical Centre for $US31 million but settled for $US1.25 million. She says the medical centre to this day hasn't apologised for the switch. "I’m angry because I don’t have a relationship with my biological child. I’m angry at the hospital because the only thing I ever asked was them to apologise," Ms Johnson told CBS. "I’m angry that Kevin and Whitney aren’t here to see what a beautiful child she is and how much she’s grown.

“I’ve always taught (Callie) from day one that they are her parents,” Paula added. “She was born in Whitney’s belly and she was born in my heart.”

Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers with Rebecca, left, who was switched at birth.

Rebecca Chittum Conley says she doesn't have anything to do with her birth mother. In a dramatic twist, she is now living with her biological dad Carlton Conley.

Carlton often drove the two girls between their homes to meet each other’s families and gradually he fell in love with Whitney’s sister Pam Miskovsky.

Callie and Pam are very close. On her Facebook page, she writes: "I love my mom to death. You eventually find out that it’s the people who love and who take care of you, not necessarily the ones who give birth to you. Love you mom."

"I am very thankful for the life I have," she told MailOnline. "I would not go back and change a single second of it."

"People ask would you prefer your parents still be alive or passed?" she said."I don’t know what I’m missing so in a sense I do feel more sorry for Rebecca because she doesn’t know her biological mom."

Callie, meanwhile, told WTVR-TV  that Paula is “my best friend.” “She always has been. And I can honestly say that.”

Did you ever worry about whether you'd recognise your baby? 

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