When these moms realized their babies were switched at birth, they raised them together
via Jeremy Miles / Flickr

Sicilian moms Caterina Alagna and Melissa Fodera were both 23 years old when they went into labor at the same maternity ward on December 31, 1998. During the New Year's celebrations at the hospital, a monumental mistake was made.

The babies were switched and given to the wrong mothers.

When it was time for the mothers to take their newborn daughters home, both asked hospital staff why they weren't wearing the clothes they brought for them. But hospital staff assured them that it was just a mistake.


Three years later, when Alagna was picking up her daughter, Melissa, from preschool, she noticed that another girl at the school, Caterina, looked a lot like her two other daughters. When she learned that the little girl's mother was the woman she shared the maternity ward with, it all clicked.

Could it be that their daughters were switched at birth?"

"I recognized Caterina's mother, Gisella Fodera, from the maternity ward and got suspicious — 15 days later we did DNA tests and my mind went blank. It was too surreal, too impossible," Alagna said according to The Sun.

How could the mothers go on knowing that they were raising the wrong child? How could they give up the child they had raised for three years?

"I challenge anyone to raise a daughter for three years then give her up over a simple mistake," Fodera told the Times UK.

The mothers decided they would ease into a potential child swap by having both families spend time together in the same house. When experts suggested that they separate for a six-month trial, the plan was quickly abandoned.

The two families soon merged together and the girls bonded like twin sisters. The families would spend days together, had joint birthdays, and the girls spent weekends together. "They chose to live together during the weekends and free time. And the girls were classmates until college," Mauro Caporiccio, author of the book "Sisters Forever," told the Times U.K.

Things were a bit confusing at first but ended up for the better.

"At first, loving Melissa, my biological daughter, felt like betraying the daughter I had raised, but today Melissa and I truly feel like mother and daughter," Fodera said.

Melissa and Caterina learned about the switch when they were eight years old, but it hasn't posed any real problems. The only issue they face is dealing with their legal names.

"It seemed like a game and today neither of us have any memory of life before we were three," Melissa said. "Growing up I had Marinella as a second mother, as she still is," she said.

"The girls effectively grew up with four parents and eight grandparents, and the experiment worked," Caporiccio said. "Today they are more like twins than sisters and there is a kind of love which binds the two families."

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 04.13.18


Teens have a knack for coming up with clever ways to rage against the system.

When I was in high school, the most notorious urban legend whispered about in hallways and at parties went like this: A teacher told his class that they were allowed to put "anything" on a notecard to assist them during a science test. Supposedly, one of his students arrived on test day with a grown adult at his side — a college chemistry major, who proceeded to stand on the notecard and give him answers. The teacher was apparently so impressed by the student's cunning that he gave him a high score, then canceled class for the rest of the week because he was in such a good mood.

Of course, I didn't know anyone who'd ever actually try such a thing. Why ruin a good story with reality — that pulling this kind of trick would probably earn you detention?

Keep Reading Show less