A French court on Tuesday awarded two 20-year-old women €1.8m ($2.1m) as compensation after getting switched at birth.
Twenty years ago, Sophie Serrano noticed that her newborn child Manon, when brought back from the incubator after suffering jaundice, had remarkably more hair than when she left. Similarly another new mother was having similar concerns when daughter came back from the incubator with less hair.
Both mothers were pacified by the staff and they did not want to make a fuss about it, so they left it at that. The families brought up strangers' children as their own for two decades, because of the carelessness of an auxiliary nurse, reports the Guardian.
The dissimilarities between Manon and her parents' physical features however, caused neighbours to churn rumours about the family. Some even went as far as to suggest that she was the postman's child.
The accusations took a toll on the couple. Her husband left them and insisted on a paternity test which showed that he had no biological connection to his daughter.
A DNA test also proved that even the mother she had no genetic link to the child she raised was her own.
The clinic was immediately alerted and an investigation launched. Manon, scared that she would lose everyone she loved said, "I was afraid of being separated from her, from my family, my life. What does a 10-year-old do when she learns something like this?"
The family of the second girl, who was born on the same day, was traced and a meeting was arranged. "It was a pretty disturbing moment...You find yourself in front of a woman who is biologically your mother, but who is a stranger," said Manon.
After a criminal action against the clinic was dropped, the families decided to sue in the civil courts, the case of which was heard by judges in December 2014. On Tuesday, the court awarded the girls and their families over €1.8m (£1.34m) as compensation. Serrano, 38, said she was happy with the decision and that it has helped assuage her two decade-old guilt.
"Finally, after so many years, the error has been recognised. Now I'm cleared of everything. I've no reason to feel guilty for anything anymore.. The clinic has been found responsible I feel liberated vindicated," she said.
— CP24 (@CP24) February 10, 2015