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In an interview with People Magazine, one couple is opening up about what it felt like when they learned the child they just gave birth to wasn’t theirs. While talking with People, Alexander and Daphna Cardinale explained that they used in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, to get pregnant.
The couple, who is based in Los Angeles used the California Center for Reproductive Health to help them conceive. However, they didn’t know anything was wrong until Daphna gave birth.
Alexander admitted to People that as soon as their child was born, he knew something was off. “It was sort of a primal reaction,” Alexander told People.
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After giving birth that September day in 2019, the couple just tried to shake off the feeling that their child looked nothing like them. “It was a little jarring, but I shook it off and cut the umbilical cord,” he says.
Shell-Shocked Couple Reveals What It’s Like to Learn the Baby They Birthed Wasn’t Biologically Theirs
Sadly, their nightmares were confirmed three months later when they learned the fertility clinic had mistakenly implanted another couple’s embryo into Daphna and transferred the Cardinales’ embryo into the other woman, the Cardinales told People.
For three months, both couples raised someone else’s child, thinking that it was their own. They said the horrific mistake has left them shellshocked.
“This is something that’s just changed who we are,” Daphna told People. In January of 2020, the couples made the decision to swap the children they had thought to be their own.
“It’s still a daily struggle and will continue to be,” the mom admitted. “If we hadn’t done IVF, I would’ve just chalked [the lack of resemblance] up to genetics,” Alexander later admitted to People. “She just looks how she looks. No big deal. But because we’d done IVF, my brain started going to the dark place.”
Daphna admitted she knew the baby girl “looked really different than us,” but because she had carried her for nine months, she felt a familiarity that Alexander didn’t. “I carried her and I birthed her.”
Nonetheless, the couple and their oldest child fell in love with the newest member of their family, despite even outsiders commenting on just how different the baby looked. “She just really folded into our lives and into our hearts.”
However, when they received a call from the clinic asking for a photo of their newborn daughter, Alexander began to question everything again. “It seemed odd,” the dad told People. “I thought, ‘Do they know something we don’t know?’”
That’s when Daphna bought an at-home DNA kit. And as a result, they learned the terrifying truth. Their daughter, the little girl she carried for nine months and loved for nearly two, was not their biological child.
“We got an email that basically said that she was genetically related to neither of us. That’s when our world started falling apart.”
Days later, the clinic confirmed that they had mixed up the embryos and that their biological daughter was birthed by the biological mother of the baby they had been caring for. It was on Christmas Eve that further DNA tests confirmed what they already knew to be true.
Daphna and Alexander told People that they learned the other couple had named their daughter Zoe and had decided to keep that name. “It’s weird learning the name of your child when you didn’t name her.”
The other couple, who has chosen not to be identified, was also “blindsided and devastated.” Daphna told People that their oldest child begged them not to switch because she had fallen in love with the baby they originally brought home from the hospital.
Together they made the decision that it was in their babies’ best interest to switch so that each child was living with their biological parents. And as People report, this disaster actually created a strong bond between the two couples, who remain in touch and only live 10 minutes away from each other.
Now the couple is suing for medical malpractice, negligence, fraud, and more. In a statement issued by Alexander and Daphna’s attorney, he said that while “people make mistakes,” this mistake was far from harmless.
“In most industries, those mistakes are fairly harmless. They can be corrected. With fertility clinics, those mistakes can have lifelong consequences. This has fundamentally changed the lives of Daphna and Alexander, as well as their two children.”
And as Alexander told People, “There’s no person to give you advice. So we ended up just sort of huddling together, the four of us, and it’s a blessing that we all are on the same page. We’ve spent every holiday together since then. We’ve spent every birthday together since then — and we’ve just kind of blended the families.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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