Moms of Babies Switched at Birth Raise Daughters Under Same Roof: ‘Love Is Fundamental’

'It is important to communicate love for the family.'
By Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
October 15, 2021 Updated: October 15, 2021

Two mothers who gave birth on the same day, at the same hospital, made an unconventional decision when they found out their daughters had been accidentally switched at birth. They merged families, raising their girls under the same roof, and today they are inseparable.

Marinella Alagna and Gisella Fodera, from the Sicilian town of Mazara del Vallo, Italy, gave birth to daughters Caterina and Melissa 10 minutes apart on Jan. 1, 1998, in the city’s public Abele Ajello Hospital. However, the newborns were somehow swapped by the staff while dressing them.

“They confused the girls because they didn’t have bracelets, and, consequently, they made a mistake in dressing them by changing their onesies,” Marinella, 50, told The Epoch Times.

Yet, nobody knew that the babies were swapped, and the families returned home and raised their daughters as their own for three years. But everything changed one day at kindergarten.

Epoch Times Photo
Melissa (L) and Caterina. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)
Epoch Times Photo
Caterina (L) with her biological mother, Marinella; and Melissa (R) with her biological mother, Gisella. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)

At the nursery school, Marinella was specially drawn toward a little girl named Caterina, who looked very similar to her other two biological daughters. Moments later, when Marinella recognized the girl’s mother, Gisella, she recalled the onesies episode and sharing the maternity ward with her.

“Immediately my doubt became certainty,” she said.

A DNA test conducted two weeks later confirmed the girls’ true parentage, and the grave mistake was brought to light. Marinella described the news as “terrible.”

“We didn’t live anymore, and we always cried,” she recalled. “It did not seem possible that such an event could happen.”

Epoch Times Photo
Marinella and her husband with Gisella’s biological daughter, Melissa. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)
Epoch Times Photo
Gisella and her husband with Marinella’s biological daughter, Caterina. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)

After the two families were reunified, they embarked on a three-month trial separation, speaking every day on the phone. But the pain was too much to bear.

“It was impossible to separate with the other child; it was a pain as strong as a death in the family,” Marinella recalled.

Instead, the two mothers put their heads together and came up with a groundbreaking solution: both families would live together, allowing them to be with both the children they had raised and their biological children.

Epoch Times Photo
Caterina and Melissa. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)

Caterina and Melissa’s loving families grew to include eight grandparents, two fathers, and two mothers.

“I knew my story right from the start because our parents never hid anything from us,” Caterina, now 23, told The Epoch Times. “They told us something had happened, but like a fairytale: ‘The stork made a mistake in bringing the girls to their families.'”

Too young to understand, neither Caterina nor Melissa was upset. “We even thought we were cousins,” Caterina recalled. “At the age of 6, however, we began to perceive more.”

Yet knowledge of their unique situation only strengthened Caterina and Melissa’s bond. They celebrated every birthday together and attended the same schools, even living in the same house while studying for their degrees in Chieti, Abruzzo.

Epoch Times Photo
Caterina (L) and Melissa with Caterina’s dad. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)
Epoch Times Photo
Caterina (L) and Melissa with Melissa’s dad. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)

Together with Caterina’s two older biological sisters, and Melissa’s younger sister, the pair love to travel. They always introduce themselves as “friends” before divulging that truly, they feel more like sisters.

“We are completely different girls,” Caterina said. “We know that it could happen that someone is left behind, or takes another path, but with the awareness that we will always be there for each other.

“It is important to communicate love for the family; sometimes, you never appreciate what you have, and saying ‘I love you’ is essential.”

Epoch Times Photo
Caterina (L) with Gisella and Melissa. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)
Epoch Times Photo
Marinella with her daughter, Caterina. (Courtesy of Caterina Alagna)

After graduating with a degree in Educational Sciences in March, Caterina now works with children. Melissa will graduate in November. The Alagna and Fodera families continue to share their story as an example to other families to lead with love.

“These things should never happen,” Marinella told The Epoch Times. “Loving and giving love is fundamental, very important. We have suffered so much, too much. Now I see my daughters smiling, and we do too, but what we have inside remains forever.”

According to Italy 24 News, their amazing story has been turned into a book by Mauro Caporiccio, “Sisters Forever,” and adapted into a film with collaboration from the author.

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Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.