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  1. #61
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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...her-apart.html
    Baby switch girls together apart

    When it emerged in 1998 that Callie Conley and Rebecca Chittum had been switched in hospital soon after being born, the girls were already three years old and one child's parents had died in a car crash. After years of legal battles, it was agreed that the girls would stay with the families who had raised them. Louise Carpenter travelled to Virginia to find that, 11 years on, the girls' story has taken yet further extraordinary turns.


    Image 1 of 2
    Callie Conley and Paula Johnson, the woman who has raised her Photo: CHARLOTTE OESTERVANG

    11:55AM BST 17 Sep 2009

    Every year on July 4, American Independence Day, Callie Conley, 14 years old and with aspirations to be America's next top model, goes to her bedroom to be alone, away from her family shouting and teasing one another in the yard below, her mother cooking, her elder brothers mending cars or aiming a rifle at the beer cans on the washing line.

    There, surrounded by the talismans of teenage life – the straightening irons, the make-up, the Kanye West and Hannah Montana CDs, and the piles of clothes scattered like molehills over the floor – she looks at a collection of photographs. The photo­graphs show a heavily pregnant blond teenager in a smock: Whitney Rogers is not much older than Callie and beside her is her boyfriend, Kevin Chittum, young, adoring and beaming with pride.

    The photograph is creased from being folded into quarters to fit in Callie's pocket. 'Mom and Dad' is written on the back in felt-tip pen. 'RIP. Love ya!' Her school exercise book is also out on the bed, more photographs stapled to its back page: the same couple, this time with two little girls; Kevin Chittum in builder's garb, beaming out of the picture as he fixes up the house that was to be the beginning of their American dream; another woman, Paula Johnson, leaning against some railings, large and heavy-boned with a cheerful smile; and a crumpled and charred heap of metal, once the Chittums' Honda car, overturned on the side of the motorway.

    July 4 is the anniversary of the death of her parents, Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers, who died in 1998, when Callie was three. But Callie never knew them because she has been raised from birth by Paula Johnson.

    At 11.12pm on June 29 1995, in the Women's Place at the University of Virginia Medical Centre in Charlottesville, Paula Johnson, 29, gave birth to a little girl weighing 9lb 6oz. She and her boyfriend, Carlton, named their daughter Callie Marie Jewel Conley. The next day, June 30, in the same hospital, at 2.43pm, 16-year-old Whitney Rogers gave birth to another little girl, weighing 7lb 10oz. She named her Rebecca, and the girl took the surname of her father, Kevin Chittum, who was Whitney's high-school sweetheart and fiancé.

    Both babies were placed in the hospital nursery. At some point between 6.30 and 8am on July 1, as part of routine checks, the two little girls were lifted out of their cribs and, somehow, returned to the wrong ones. The baby delivered by Paula now lay in the crib of the baby delivered by Whitney. Whitney's baby, Rebecca, now lay in Callie's crib. That same day, around lunchtime, Paula Johnson left hospital with the newborn daughter she thought was hers. Except it was Whitney's. And when Whitney and Kevin left the following day at 7.30am, they took with them Paula's infant.

    This might have been the end of it. Nobody might ever have known had Carlton Conley and Paula Johnson not split up acrimoniously three years later, and Johnson filed a petition for child support payments from Conley. Conley questioned whether he was Callie's father, saying Callie looked nothing like him. The Greene County family court ordered DNA testing in 1998.
    Johnson received the results on July 3. Fairfax Laboratories, which had conducted the DNA test, had discovered that not only was Carlton not the father but that Paula was not Callie's mother, either.
    It took a while for hospital officials to work out the identity of the second switched baby. Terrified by the threat of law suits (and there would be many), through a process of elimination and cross-referencing of medical records the hospital narrowed it down to six babies.
    The pointer to Rebecca Chittum lay in the discrepancies in her feeding records. Each of the two couples took home a baby vastly different in size to the baby they had borne. Paula took home a baby who had suddenly turned from a ravenous bruiser to a picky eater, while Whitney's baby suddenly demanded more and more food. The hospital tracked down the baby being raised as Rebecca Chittum – only to find the story had taken another cruel twist.
    On July 4, the day after Paula Johnson got the results of the DNA test, in the Shenandoah Valley hamlet of Buena Vista, Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers got into their Honda with four children: Kevin's youngest sister, his 11-year-old niece, and two of their playmates, to go to a fair. At the last minute, they left their daughters, three-year-old Rebecca and six-month Lindsey, with Whitney's mother because there was no space for the car seats.
    Caught in a violent storm, the car hydroplaned and hit an oil tanker head on. Everybody was killed. Rebecca Chittum was now orphaned. Staying with her grieving grandparents, she was oblivious to the double tragedy unfolding around her. In the midst of the family bereavement, she was DNA tested.
    Having established the identities of the children, both the State of Virginia and the hospital went to extraordinary lengths to cover their tracks. Had the switch been malice or was it an accident? Johnson, as the only surviving mother, was interviewed by the police for four hours. (Rebecca's two sets of grandparents, shell-shocked at the news and grieving for their dead children, were spared this, at least.) The world's media descended. As one of the editors of this magazine, this is the story I commissioned the writer Allison Pearson to investigate 11 years ago. At that time, Paula Johnson was shocked and devastated, but hopeful of some kind of amicable resolution. Callie and Rebecca were three years old, and oblivious to the switch.
    There followed three years of bitter acrimony and fighting between Johnson and both sets of Rebecca's grandparents. After a four-month investigation by state and hospital campus police, a Charlottesville prosecutor issued a statement making it clear that there was no evidence to suggest the babies had been switched on purpose. The State Health Department issued a damning report on the lax procedures and inattentiveness in the maternity ward.
    All the families launched at least half a dozen lawsuits against the hospital for millions of dollars. On April 5 1999 the Chittum and Rogers families reached a $2 million out-of-court settlement with the state. Six weeks later, Johnson sued the hospital for $31 million. (She also launched another $12 million suit against the manufacturer of the baby-identification bracelets the girls had been wearing, only to withdraw it later.) The following year, on April 19, the Virginia Attorney General's Office announced a settlement had finally been reached with Johnson for £2.3 million. Most of the money was to be held in trust for the girls until they came of age.
    Meanwhile, nobody could agree on what was best for the girls. Kevin Chittum's parents fought with Whitney Rogers's parents over what to do with Rebecca and both the Chittums and the Rogerses became locked in acrimonious battles with Paula Johnson. Everybody involved was terrified that the other side would take their child away. There were endless custody hearings, during which time Paula was made Callie's legal guardian. The two sets of grandparents were made Rebecca's.
    Then, in autumn 1999, to the devastation of the grandparents, Paula Johnson went to court in Buena Vista formally to adopt Rebecca, the baby she had given birth to. The Chittums lined up a series of Johnson's former partners, all set to testify against her. But family court judge John B Curry said the only opinion he was interested in was that of the child psychologist who had evaluated Rebecca. The psychologist gave evidence stating that moving Rebecca away from the only home she knew would cause incalculable harm to a child who had already suffered the deaths of the only parents she had ever known. Rebecca was to stay where she was but was to visit Paula for one weekend each month, plus public holidays and three weeks in the summer. The same applied to Callie visiting her grandparents, allowing the girls to see one another every other fortnight.
    The American press had stayed on the story until this point but in time its interest died away, although the court battles between the families – mainly over visitation rights – continued. I had often wondered about Callie and Rebecca, who with every year that passed were getting closer to understanding what had happened. This year, I counted back to their birthdays. They were turning 14, a year younger than when Whitney became pregnant, and only four years from coming of age. There was a different story to tell now.
    I finally tracked down Paula Johnson through an internet chat room dating back years. After consulting Callie, Paula agreed to see me. She also gave me the number of Rosa Chittum, one of Rebecca's guardians.
    Weeks went by before I reached Rosa Chittum. She was friendly and requested that I contact their lawyer. We talked about a possible meeting with Rebecca in his office. He called back to postpone. Rebecca and the Chittums could not be rushed into this, he said. Rebecca had been protected from anything remotely upsetting – and any meeting would have to be entirely on their own terms. 'Tell me,' he asked, 'are you paying Paula Johnson?' I told him absolutely not.
    'You see,' he said, 'the Chittums have handled this whole thing in a completely different way. Paula Johnson has been in the spotlight whereas the Chittums have got on with the business they consider most important, bringing Rebecca up in the most normal way possible.' (He was referring to the extensive press coverage Johnson had agreed to over the years, from prime-time interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Katie Couric to cover stories for People magazine.) I asked him when I might meet Rebecca. 'Give me 30 days,' he said.
    When I draw up to Paula Johnson's colonial-style, clapboard house in Stafford, a Virginia suburb an hour from Washington, DC, I am surprised at how middle-class it seems, how smart the car is parked at the front. Nearby there is a picturesque marina and a wood that backs on to Johnson's garden. It looks, at least to a European eye, like the kind of neighbourhood where men might wash their cars every Sunday while their wives bake cookies out back. Access to the quiet and leafy streets is via a barrier, operated by an armed officer sitting in a hut.
    I hadn't expected this because 11 years ago the media made much of Paula Johnson's lifestyle: the four children – Wesley, Frankie, Cody and Callie –by different men; the possession of guns, the allegations of domestic violence she made against Carlton Conley; the mental and emotional problems experienced by her older children. It was all thrown into stark contrast by the wholesome, teenage love (pregnancy aside) of cheerleader Whitney Rogers and the hardworking, nappy-changing Kevin Chittum. ('I just had ****ty taste in men,' Paula will tell me later.)
    Paula answers the door. I recognise her immediately from the pictures: extremely pretty green eyes in a heavy-set face, with a mountain of crispy curls cascading down her back. She is now very large, perhaps two stone heavier than 10 years ago, but she seems entirely comfortable with herself (she confirms this later: 'I've stopped worrying, Greg [her new husband] likes me as I am and that's enough'), and is dressed for summer in shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops. Callie bounds down the stairs to join her.
    Like the photographs of Whitney – her real mother – Callie resembles a petite doll, with slender, long limbs stretching below her denim micro mini and a small, delicate face full of sharp angles. Her hair is long and highlighted and straight. She looks nothing like Paula Johnson. But keen to establish a physical resemblance despite the lack of DNA, Paula mentions that Callie looks just like her youngest son, Cody, now 18, and says that passers-by often think Callie is the twin of her cousin Jared, who is the same age but, of course, no relation. (When I eventually meet Cody and Jared I'm not so sure.)
    Faced with mother and daughter, the physical difference between them is astonishing. It always has been. When Paula found out about the switch, she said to her disbelieving mother, Jewel, 'Haven't you always said you couldn't understand why she didn't look like the rest of us!'
    We go into the kitchen, past the sitting-room, which has walls lined with photographs of the many, many permutations of children that make up Paula's family – stepchildren, step-grandchildren, even the children of her foster daughter's first husband, whom she regards as her own flesh and blood. 'Blood means nothing to us in this family,' she says. 'Nothing.' There are also some pictures of the older Rebecca in there. Her resemblance to Paula is as marked as Callie's dissimilarity. The green eyes are the same, the smile, the heavier-set face and build. 'She looks just like you,' I say. Paula smiles wistfully.

    ... cont


  2. #62
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    ...
    Later, we sit in the kitchen eating take-away. Since the switch was discovered, Paula has been open with Callie about what happened. While the Chittums and Rogerses were consulting child psychologists about the best path forward for minimising damage to Rebecca, Paula instead contacted Kimberly Mays, another American girl who was switched at birth, now in her twenties but who was not told of her switch until she was 11 (it wasn't discovered until she was nine). 'Don't keep any secrets from her,' Mays advised Paula. So Callie has had access to everything, however distressing or complex. This includes press clippings – even the ones in which Paula is painted in a grim light – and the laboratory test results, based on five DNA probes: 'Summary of findings: Paula K Johnson is not the biological mother of Callie M Conley'.
    Until recently the archive was arranged on the bottom shelf of a glass cabinet in the dining-room, but the family were planning to move house, and so have boxed up their possessions. 'Sometimes, when I feel like it, I just go sit on the floor in there and flick through everything,' Callie says. 'I find it really helpful. It's all there if I want it.' As a result, there are no dark secrets, no unanswered questions between mother and daughter.
    Paula and Callie are keen to show me the baby-switch documents. They start pulling down boxes, rocking huge cardboard towers and screaming with laughter. Finally they wrestle one to the ground. baby switch is written on the top of one box in blue felt-tip pen, just as one might write cds or books. They rip it open and begin pulling out handfuls of paper and magazines. 'Look at this!' 'Look at this one!' 'Made it to the cover there!' There is the $5 bill inscribed with the bet that Jewel made with Carlton that Paula would have another boy (she lost the bet and annotated the $5 note for posterity); Callie's social security card and number; endless photographs of the girls throughout their lives, some at birth, some after the switch; Callie's incorrect birth certificate, Callie Marie Jewel Conley, June 29 1995 (she was born the next day); and a pre-designed baby book that new parents can have personalised with their newborn's details. 'A Special Story about Callie Marie Jewel Conley, with Love from Mummy and Daddy, June 29 1995,' the opening page reads. Given the magnitude of the disaster that ensued, the commercial sentimentality of such a book seems even more tragic: 'Carlton and Paula were very proud of their newborn daughter. They realised that Callie Marie Jewel Conley was a priceless treasure.'
    'That's not me,' Callie says, matter-of-factly, 'that's Rebecca.'
    She starts flipping through the book. 'I did not weigh 9lb 6oz, I wasn't born on June 29, I was not 19 and three-quarter inches long from head to toe, I did not arrive at 11.12pm – that's not my life!'
    'That is you!' Paula says. 'It's just Rebecca's details. What do I say to you?' she asks. 'Tell Louise. Where were you born?
    'In Mamma Whitney's stomach but that you raised me and took me…' Callie says.
    'And you were born in my heart, right?'
    'Uh-huh,' Callie says.
    'And that's how I felt about it, ya know?' Paula tells me, 'that it wasn't anything she did, it wasn't anything Rebecca did, it wasn't anything that Whitney or I did, or Carlton or Kevin. It was an accident and it was just something that happened, and I thank God every day because now I have her. Y'know, I don't know where my life would be without her. She is the most amazing child.'
    Callie begins to look embarrassed.
    'You know how I feel about you,' Paula continues. 'We talk about our bond together – she is very much a product of her environment and we are all very quick-witted, smart-****, you know what I mean? She formed her personality very early on. Very stubborn, hard-headed, extremely obstinate and just a very strongly opinionated individual even when she was young.'
    Paula tells me about the time when Callie started her new school and she heard people whispering about her: 'That's the baby switch girl!' 'I told her, "Tell 'em, Callie! You got nothing to be ashamed of!" ' In the class's next show-and-tell, Callie recalls standing at the front holding the front cover of People magazine, with an edited version of her archive, carefully numbered pictures and documents laid out in front of her. 'This is me!' she told the class, 'ask me whatever you like.' 'She was great!' Paula adds.
    'Most of them wanted to know how much I was worth,' Callie says, shooting her mother a wry look.
    Paula is right. For all the physical difference, their bond is palpably strong, more Thelma and Louise than young teen and mother. It certainly makes a clear argument for the power of nurture over nature.
    Paula and Callie start teasing one another. 'I'd trade you in for a bottle of beer, girlfriend!'
    'I'm gonna leave you to sit in your diapers when you're an old lady!'
    The pair break into peals of giggles.
    'My mum is my best friend,' Callie says. 'I can tell her anything because I know she won't judge me.'
    Paula tells me she can't believe how mature Callie is, that she allows Callie to date boys because she knows she can trust her: 'She tells me everything.' She looks at Callie adoringly.
    I ask Callie what she feels when she looks at the picture of Whitney and Kevin.
    'I see my parents, but deep down I guess it's just not there for me. Yeah, they're my parents, and sometimes I feel kind of angry that Rebecca knew my biological parents and I didn't, but your parents aren't somebody who gives birth to you, they are the people who love you. To me, biological means nothing. Well, it does to a point, I love my biological family, but this is my home, this is where I grew up and this is my family.'
    'For me,' Paula says pointing to Callie, 'this is who I raised, every single day, this is whose butt I wiped and who I sat up with in the middle of the night – this! – not that Rebecca is not my child, but this here is my daughter and there is a bond between us that is a different kind of bond than there is between Rebecca and me. '
    Paula suddenly looks very sad. She has not seen Rebecca for two years. The official line is that pretty much around the same time, both girls started objecting to the four-hour trip every other weekend, preferring instead to get on with their busy lives at home. But Callie still visits Buena Vista (a visit is planned for this month), though Rebecca does not come to Stafford any more. Callie tells me it ended suddenly, that Rebecca just stopped coming.
    Why don't you see Rebecca any more? I ask Paula later. 'Maybe it was something I did,' Paula says. 'Or something I said. I have no idea. It is my understanding that Rebecca didn't want to come due to the drive and it was such a difference from our world to hers. And she was getting older and had all sorts of activities.'
    She tells me of a time when she drove to Buena Vista to drop Callie off with the Chittums and checked herself into a nearby hotel, hoping to see Rebecca. Even when she was down the road Rebecca did not visit. The perceived 'difference from our world to hers', I suspect, gets nearer to the truth of the situation.
    Around this time, Paula lost her right to visit Rebecca, which the Chittums say was because she missed a court hearing. Johnson says she didn't know about the hearing – and so even now, the families seem back at square one.
    'It's hard for my mom,' Callie tells me later. 'When I go to the Chittums, I say to Rebecca, "Mom would love to see you," and she looks like she's thinking about it and then looks back at the house and shakes her head and says, "I don't think so." I know Mom really wants to see her more.'
    Paula says she has always been immensely respectful of Callie's connection with Whitney and Kevin, allowing space for it to develop, and Callie confirms this. Callie tells me she has an especially close connection with Lindsey, her 12-year-old birth sister. The two girls often talk about one day, when they are older, moving into the house Kevin was renovating for Whitney and his young family before he was killed, a house that the Chittums have kept on. Really? I ask her. 'It has a kinda special significance for all of us,' Callie says.
    I ask Paula if she ever feels jealous. 'No! I always invite Callie to explore more about who she is and what she is,' she says. 'Kevin and Whitney seemed like nice people, and I often think that it would have been easier for me to cope with all this had they been alive. But why would I make a child pay for what has happened in the past by making her feel guilty for having feelings for them? Callie is going to have emotional issues but she is figuring it out the best way she can and all I can do is explain it to her the best way I can. Every year, as she grows older, it gets a little bit easier to understand.'
    Each girl has retained the other girl's details and Callie admits that this sometimes gets to her: 'I have to enter my birthday as my password to get on the school computer,' she says, 'and it always rejects it. It really annoys me, every time!' Callie types in June 30 1995, the day Whitney gave birth to her but the school has her down as June 29 1995, the official birthday of Paula's child. 'We had to do it like that,' Paula explains. 'Each girl got the other girl's information. It would be too complicated otherwise, to change everything back.' As for her birthday, she celebrates both days.
    The story of Callie and Rebecca has now taken another extraordinary turn. Carlton Conley, Paula's ex-boyfriend and Rebecca's natural father, who started the rock thundering down the cliff in the first place, effectively switched sides. Through two years of taking Callie to the Chittum grandparents as part of their visitation rights, and in seeing Rebecca as part of his own visitation rights, he fell in love with Pam Miskovsky, Rebecca's aunt (Rosa Chittum's daughter and Kevin's sister). They married in 2001, and are now bringing up Rebecca with Lindsey, Kevin and Whitney's younger daughter, and three sons of their own.
    And in a story already containing so much loss, more was to come. In April 2003 Paula Johnson's son Frankie, then 15, committed suicide using a shotgun. He was living with his father at the time. Callie was approaching eight years old and says she does not remember much about him. But it had a devastating effect on Paula and her two surviving sons, Wes and Cody, who were 17 and 12, and who had already been traumatised by the fallout of the baby swap.
    The Chittums expressed their sorrow for Paula; now she could understand what it had been like for them when Kevin and Whitney died. 'It was only then that I did know,' Paula says. 'I had tried to imagine what it was like to lose a child but you never know until it happens to you.'
    It is Sunday morning and Paula is preparing for a giant 'cook-out', a barbecue for every family member – biological and non-biological. Her new husband, Greg, is on the porch lighting the coals, and Wes and Cody are stripping an engine out of an old car and shouting at the dog.
    'After the baby switch I just had to keep going,' Paula says. 'I kept going to work after Frankie died, and for the first year I did the normal things. But then when it hit me, it hit me like a brick. My kids had been switched, I didn't have my biological child, my son was deceased, I hadn't dealt with any of it. I'd kept moving, go, go, go, and then bam it smacked me in the face.'
    She was, by her own admission, in 'really bad shape'. Callie was acting up when she went to the Chittums and her remaining sons were so devastated by grief they wished they, too, were dead. In the five years that followed the baby-switch discovery, Paula now saw that her other children had been pushed to the sidelines and that subsequent problems of teenage delinquency – drugs, truancy – were directly related.
    Finally, she did what perhaps she should have done in 1998, what, in fact, Judge John B Curry had recommended in autumn 1999. She sought professional help. The whole family went into therapy for two years, either collectively or individually, and each of them worked through their feelings.
    'It kind of validated the feelings I had,' Callie says, 'the way I just wanted to just be me, an individual. I think it brought us closer as a family. Family isn't blood for us, but we love each other just the same as if it were. It made Mom more open and accepting. Mom keeps everything inside and it builds up and breaks, but she's happier now.'
    Paula agrees counselling liberated her, especially of worrying how her every action might play out on others. 'I'd built a wall around myself,' she says. 'I don't care how I'm perceived any more. Although this whole thing has changed me. I am less trusting and there still is a lot of bitterness and resentment. Maybe too much has happened for that ever to go away. I should have gone to the counsellor before, but you know it was an issue of time and money and also, thinking that if I pretended there wasn't a problem, then it would all go away.'

    Two years ago, she began seeing Greg Gentry, whom she had first met shortly after the switch. The relationship had foundered in 1998, but this time, post-counselling, it worked. They married last year and Callie says that she regards Greg as her dad – she calls him 'Dad' and behaves as though he is her father – but says she also still feels a daughterly bond with Carlton Conley (whom she has continued to see since he split up with Paula). Both girls are currently trying to change their names through the courts: Rebecca to Rebecca Elizabeth Chittum Conley and Callie to Callie Marie Jewel Chittum Johnson-Gentry.
    ...cont

  3. #63
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    ...
    Among the family group, Callie looks as physically unbelonging as she does with Paula. But she does belong. Wes, who describes himself as a 'redneck', says it never occurs to him that Callie is not his real sister. Cody is much more fragile, and is currently trying to cope with depression without medication. He is a mummy's boy, Paula tells me, who has suffered a lot. When we begin to talk, his eyes fill with water and then he begins to sob. 'I just want my mom to be happy,' he says. Both boys say they miss Rebecca. 'You know, people call us dysfunctional, and we are dysfunctional,' Paula says. 'but we love each other.'
    Looming in the distance is the fact that by the time Callie turns 25 she will have received about $2 million in compensation. The first instalment is due in four years, on her 18th birthday. Looking at Callie's family now, I can't help feeling that such a huge sum might have the opposite effect than intended. Might it not drive them all apart? Or at the very least, isolate Callie?
    'I'm not greedy,' Callie says. 'We don't need all that money but something tragic happened and we are going to get something out of it. I don't want a huge house, just somewhere to live and a car. I probably won't take the money out of the bank but live on the interest it earns – that way I will never have to struggle in life.'
    The age-old nature-nurture debate fosters a tendency in an outsider to look for emotional meaning in every act, in every detail. For example, I wonder about Callie's earlier comment on wanting to return to Buena Vista to live with Lindsey, just as I find myself wanting to read meaning into the fact that Callie is alone in her family in supporting Obama. 'Look,' she says when I ask her, 'you get that difference in every family, it's not because I was switched.'

    I leave Virginia without seeing Rebecca, but with a sense of anticipation about meeting her. In the weeks that follow, I telephone and email the Chittums' lawyer every other day to arrange a date. I ring Rosa, and am referred back to the lawyer. Gradually, my messages become more pleading and then finally resigned. Privately, I understand the Chittums' position in wanting to protect Rebecca, but such a sudden wall of silence after such initial warmth is odd. In desperation, I email Johnson, hoping that perhaps Callie might have heard something during a trip there. Does it strike you as strange? I ask her. 'No, not at all,' she writes back. 'Ha ha ha, welcome to my world!'

  4. #64
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    As an intellectual exercise, from what I know of psychological development, perhaps under 3yo would be a good idea to switch ... but thinking back to my little ones at 2yo, or even 1yo, I wouldn't have wanted to swap them back if they hadn't been mine. They had personalities already and were very much loved as part of the family.

    I'm thinking perhaps up to six months I would be willing to "swap back" and from six months to one year would be a grey area where I would consider it but be unlikely to agree. However from one year onwards, no way.

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    I think regardless of what any of us would want, a baby who has made an attachment to a parent, biological or not, should remain in the care of that parent, unless absolutely unavoidable. If they were able to r told the full story of their lives and live in a loving home, biology should be the last concern.

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    I honestly don't know the answer to this question. Reading the posted articles was fascinating. I remember a few of them when they appeared in the news. What strikes me as less than important is that the notion of biology is all important. It comes a very far second.

    What strikes me as particularly poignant too is TwoTrunks' comment:

    If they were able to r told the full story of their lives and live in a loving home, biology should be the last concern
    I only wish DOCS, charity organisations that work in child protection and the courts would adhere to this philosophy. So many kids' lives would be irrevocably changed for the better if they weren't so hell bent on family reunification at all costs.

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The Health Hub
Give a new mum a fitness boost for Christmas & New Year. Studio-based, small group training sessions - cardio, strength, core, Pilates & boxing. Choice of 16 hrs per week, flexible-arrival feature - bubs & kids welcome! Gift vouchers available.
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Little Rugby NSW
Catch, weave, chase, run, but most of all have FUN! Little Rugby runs a NSW network of fun, safe and non-contact footy classes for BOYS and GIRLS aged 2yrs – 7th birthday.
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Pregnant for the first-time?

Not sure where to start? We can help!

Our Insider Programs for pregnancy first-timers will lead you step-by-step through the 14 Pregnancy Must Dos!