In 1983, two mothers gave birth in the same delivery room at Suichang People’s Hospital in China: Ji Guohua and Luo Suhui. Both mothers delivered healthy baby boys.
As Metro reports, the boys were cared for by hospital staff for three days while the two exhausted mothers rested.
Four years later, Ji started hearing that her son, Cheng Wenjian, didn’t look like her or her husband. In fact, some thought he looked more like the nanny. Ji’s husband, Cheng, reportedly told Asia Wire:
“We had a nanny at the time and people said our son looked more like her than he did us.”
Ji’s sister-in-law also happened to be a substitute teacher at her son’s nursery school and told Ji about another child who looked like Ji’s husband.
“So I went to take a look and thought: ‘He really does look like him.'”
The boy was Li Hui.
In an interview, Li Hui said an “aunty” approached him in the schoolyard and started inspecting his hands and feet, reports 9Honey. The woman then followed Li Hui home to his parents’ house.
It was the home of Luo and her husband, Li.
Ji said she instantly knew Li Hui was hers:
“When I saw [the boy], I immediately said ‘this is my son.'”
According to the Metro, a DNA test confirmed that the boys had been switched at birth. The families sued the hospital and were awarded a small sum in compensation; however, they still faced the agonizing decision of giving the 4-year-olds back to their biological parents or continue raising them as their own.
Ji wasn’t ready to give up the 4-year-old despite her husband’s objections. Cheng reportedly said:
“Personally, I wanted to have my own son back. It seemed right.”
But Ji explained that she didn’t have the heart to let her son go:
“Even though we knew about the mix-up, I couldn’t bear giving him up. Even the boy himself wouldn’t want to go.”
Ji managed to convince her husband and her son’s biological parents to let the boys stay where they were. As part of the arrangement, the boys would stay with their current families and choose if they wanted to go back to their biological parents when they were older.
It was determined, however, that they needed to change their names to reflect their true identities. Li Hui would be renamed Chengli Hui and Cheng Wenjian became Licheng Jian.
Ji reportedly said letting the boys stay in their “foster” homes was the best decision for the families and the boys as it brought everyone together. The families lived just 10 minutes apart and visited each other frequently. Chengli and Licheng also attended the same school.
Now 34 years old, the sons have started families of their own. Licheng has wondered how things would be different had he and Chengli not been switched at birth:
“These are things you only see in movies. I often wonder where I would be now had they not mixed us up.”
Ji, now a grandmother, reportedly said: “We might have mixed up the last generation, but we certainly aren’t going to mix up the next one.”