Switched at Birth - Man Says He's Lucky to Have Two Mothers

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

As a child, Fred George never fit in. His Lebanese family was a dark-haired, outgoing bunch, while he was a shy blond. Across town, another boy, Jim Churchman -- the only brunette in his fair Scottish family -- felt the same way.

"People teased me when I was younger," says George. "They said: 'You're a Churchman' ... but I didn't want to know."

What was suspicion became truth. At the age of 57, long after George had moved to the U.S., the two men finally had a DNA test and discovered they'd been switched at birth. Born just two hours apart on Christmas Eve in 1946 in Dunedin, New Zealand, they'd been placed in the wrong bassinets at the hospital.

This week George flew back to New Zealand to surprise the mother who never had a chance to raise him, Helen Churchman, on her 82nd birthday. "I feel I've two families," George said. "And I've been so lucky to have had two mothers." There's also a big blow-out planned for the reunion of the two changelings.

Amazing Parent-Child Reunions

    Utah Woman Reunites with Son After 32 Years
    Terri Fuller of Utah reconnected with the son she gave up 32 years ago, Rustin Hawve, thanks to a typo and an Internet search.

    Courtesy KSL

    Elizabeth Smart
    When Elizabeth Smart disappeared from her Utah home in 2002, her family was devastated -- but they never gave up hope. Smart, who had been abducted by drifter Brian David Mitchell, was held for nine months before being returned to her family. Most amazing, though, is that Smart seems to have emerged from the experience unscathed, recently telling People magazine, "I'm not sorry this happend to me anymore, because it made me grow up."

    Read More

    Kidnapped boys reunited with parents
    In 2002, then-eleven-year-old Shawn Hornbeck was abducted by a man named Michael Devlin. Four years later, Devlin abducted a 13-year-old, Ben Owenby; the ensuing manhunt lead police to Devlin's apartment. Both boys were rescued and reunited with their families.

    Read More

    Ingrid Betancourt reunited with children after six years in captivity
    French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt was held captive by Columbian rebels for six years; she was reunited with her children, who were 13 and 16 at the time of her capture, after a daring military raid and rescue.

    Read More

    2 month old quake survivor reunited with parents
    After surviving the earthquake that devastated parts of China, two-month-old Anqui was separated from her parents during an airlift. But the baby and her worried mom and dad were all reunited within days, and all have made a full recovery.

    Read More

    British mum reunited with son she put up for adoption
    When Audrey Gilder became pregnant at 18, she had no choice but the put the baby up for adoption. 62 years later, she was reunited with him, after learning that he lived less than 20 miles from her.

    Read More

    DNA test reunites tsunami baby with parents
    After a tsunami devastated his home in Sri Lanka in December of 2005, "Baby 81" was claimed by dozens of families desperate to find their lost children. Eventually, the tot was reunited with his parents after a DNA test proved conclusively whose baby he was.

    Read More

    Separated Chinese twins find each other in America
    A pair of fraternal twin sisters abandoned a week apart in China and adopted by different families in America were reuinted when their mothers met on an adoption message board. The girls, both named Mia, live 1400 miles apart in the US, but see each other as regularly as possible.

    Read More

    Kidnapped boy returned to mom after 11 years
    In 1996, Walter Mitchell abducted the 9-month-old son of his live-in girlfriend in Phoenix, Arizona. In December of 2007, the FBI found Mitchell at his parent's home in Peoria, AZ with the child. The then-twelve-year-old boy was reunited with his mother shortly after.

    Read More

    Puppies save boy lost in forest
    Three-year-old Jaylynn Thorpe may not have known how to keep himself warm when he was lost in the forest, but he had a couple of buddies with him with some pretty good instincts. Two puppies who wandered away with Jaylynn slept up against the boy all night while searchers were looking. "Momma, I got cold," Jaylynn told his grandmother. "I slept in the woods last night. The puppies kept me warm."

    Read More

What's remarkable about this story is that on some level, the boys and their families knew there was a mix-up. It was palpable. Even their neighbors suggested it. But think about it: What would you do if you suspected your child -- maybe now half-grown -- really belonged to someone else? It's an impossible dilemma.

George says he's spent much of his life in an "identity crisis." In his book, "Switched at Birth: My Life in Someone Else's World," he describes growing up with a father who said he did not believe George was his. The mother who raised him told the nurse in the hospital she had given her the wrong baby. "Don't be silly," chuckled the nurse, George wrote.

Last year, two Cszechoslovakian women both decided to keep their one-year-old daughters, though they'd been switched at birth. "I cannot even begin to imagine a life without Nikola," said one of the mothers of her switched baby. "How can I now see her as someone else's child and not my own?"

Helen Churchman, the only parent still living, says she feels the same way. "It was an unusual thing to happen," she recently told the Patriot Ledger. "But ... it's fine. I've got two sons now ... it's lovely for Fred to be part of our family."

ReaderComments (Page 1 of 4)


Flickr RSS



AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.