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virginia switched baby

Quelques chiffres sur la substitution d'enfants
Substitution d'enfants à Roubaix,1957
Adoption illegale
Adoption ou rapt d'enfant...?
Perte d'identité au passage des frontières

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Letters from the Virginia Switched Babies Case

The infamous switched babies case from Central Virginia is heating up again, with numerous lawsuits and custody and adoption proceedings pending.

This case has just been the subject of a feature article in the Washington Post.

In summary, two babies were born at about the same time in the University of Virginia Hospital. One baby weighed nine pounds, the other weighted seven pounds. Somehow the babies were switched. The mother of the nine pound baby noticed that her baby had lost two pounds, but the hospital staff told her not to be concerned about it.
Paula Johnson holding a baby which is not hers

Three years later, the mother of the nine pound baby sued the presumed father for child support. The father denied paternity, so the court ordered a DNA test. The results of the test showed that neither the man nor the woman was the parent of the child.

Hospital and legal staff spent a few days trying to decide what to do, knowing that there would be lawsuits and perhaps criminal charges once the switch was discovered. A few days later, they decided to contact the real parents of the switched baby, only to discover that they had all died in a terrible car accident just a few hours earlier.

In civilized states of the United States, the outcome of this situation would be clear. However, in a criminal outlaw state like Virginia, nobody can guess or anticipate what might happen.

When I learned about this case, I immediately became interested because the issues are somewhat related to my own case where my daughter was kidnapped by non-relatives and taken to Virginia, where the corrupt legal authorities of that state have provided sanctuary to the kidnappers.

When I first learned of this case, I called a friend of mine in Stanardsville, which is near to where the parents of one of the switched babies live, and he told me that Paula Johnson, the mother of the nine pound baby, could not dare to go to court, because she has a bad record before the courts of her county. If she tried to get both babies (which under the law she would have a good chance of getting since the parent of one of the babies are both dead) she could lose both babies.

Because of my web site, both sides in the switched baby case have been sending me emails. Here are some of the e-mails. Meanwhile, the case is very actively before the courts.


"Paula Johnson, the Stafford woman whose baby girl was switched at birth at the University of Virginia Medical Center six years ago, agreed yesterday to accept $2.3 million from the state for herself, and the child she is raising.

The settlement, which came a day before the Virginia Supreme Court was to rule on whether Johnson's $31 million lawsuit should proceed, ends her two-year quest for damages from the hospital and the state. Johnson's lawsuit had been dismissed by a Stafford County judge in February 2000.

'Paula is very relieved that it's over,' said Kenneth Mergenthal, one of her attorneys, who signed the order to dismiss the lawsuit yesterday. 'She's happy that she can start to put her life back in order.'

Johnson declined to comment yesterday when reached through her office at a development company in Fairfax.

Under the terms of the settlement, Johnson will receive a $475,000 cash payment and $150,000 to pay attorneys' fees. Callie, the 6-year-old girl she has been raising since birth, will get $1.73 million, paid over the next 24 years.

Callie will have $200,000 placed in a trust immediately. When she turns 18, she will receive $50,000 a year for four years, then $75,000 a year for another three. When she turns 25, she will receive $350,000, and when she turns 30, she will get a final payment of $750,000.

Johnson rejected a similar settlement in February 1999 in which Johnson would have received $200,000.

David Botkins, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley, said that state officials were pleased that the suit against the hospital was over.

'It has been our goal from the beginning to provide financial assistance to these young children and their families,' Botkins said.

Hospital officials discovered in July 1998 that Johnson's baby girl had been given to a young couple from Buena Vista, Va., within days of her birth in 1995. The couple's baby had been given to Johnson, who lived outside Charlottesville at the time.

The Buena Vista couple, Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers, died in a car crash July 4, 1998, on Interstate 81, before learning of the switch.

Since then, the families in Buena Vista have battled with Johnson and with each other over custody and visitation arrangements in the bizarre case, which grabbed international media attention.

For the hospital and the state, the settlement ends almost three years of legal battles fought on several fronts. In February 1999, the state reached a similar settlement with the grandparents raising Johnson's biological child, Rebecca, in Beuna Vista.

In that settlement, the grandparents split a $125,000 cash payment.

Yesterday's agreement between Johnson and the state does not end the legal saga, however.

Johnson still has a $24 million lawsuit pending against Precision Dynamics, the California manufacturer of the hospital identification bracelets that the babies wore after their births. A state police investigation in November 1998 concluded that the switch may have occurred when both babies' ID bands fell off.

Lou Phelps, a spokesman for Precision Dynamics, said yesterday that 'in settling with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ms. Johnson has reached settlement with the entity that we believe is solely responsible for this tragic incident.'

The settlement also does not end the wrangling over custody of the girls. A judge in Buena Vista is overseeing an ongoing dispute between Johnson and the grandparents over visitation and custody arrangements.

'The situation in Buena Vista is just not workable,' Mergenthal said yesterday.

In addition, Carlton Conley, Johnson's ex-boyfriend and Rebecca's father, has filed for visitation with Callie and has filed a $7 million lawsuit against the state, which is pending.

Next month, Conley is expected to marry Pam Mitofsky, Callie's aunt in Buena Vista" (Michael D. Shear, The Washington Post, April 20, 2001).

Comments? Questions? Write me at


It's a nightmare that gets worse as more facts unfold, but sufficiently caring relatives can keep it from getting worse still.
Three years ago, two babies went home with the wrong parents from the University of Virginia's hospital. The mix-up might never have been detected except that one mother, trying to prove a boyfriend was the father of the child she was raising, was surprised when a DNA test showed he wasn't. She was even more surprised when she discovered through another DNA test that she wasn't the child's biological ...

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