Unhappy union: Switched-at-birth families decide to remain estranged after ‘heart-breaking' reunion

Caity Stone

Two French families whose babies were switched-at-birth more than 20 years ago have met for the first time and since revealed that they have made the heart-breaking decision to remain strangers.

The stunning admission aired on the latest episode of TLC’s Separated At Birth, where one family member said that having no contact was the only way they could all happily carry on with their lives.

Sophie Serrano, 40, France, gave birth 21 years ago however negligence at the maternity ward where she gave birth led to her being given the wrong child to take home.

According to interviews at the time, the babies had been switched at birth by drunk nurse who was suffering from depression.

Sophie with Manon as a baby. She now she has no contact with her biological daughter while Manon has cut ties with her biological mother. Source: Sophie Serrano.

Sophie has admitted she now she has no contact with her biological daughter.

Sophie’s ‘daughter’, who is not biologically hers, has also admitted to cutting ties with her birth mother.

In an effort to explain her gut-wrenching decision, Sophie said: “After we all met it was hard for us to go back to our normal lives.”

“It was the same for them. So in order to go back to our normal lives we don't see each other any more.”

Sophie, mother to Manon, said the situation hasn't changed how she feels about Manon, despite the mother not being her biological daughter.

“Her place in my heart is untouchable,” she said.

“Her place in my heart is untouchable,” Sophie said. Source: TLC.

Manon also agrees with her mother and admits she feels closer to Sophie as a result of what they have been through together over recent years.

“We have a close relationship a bond of love and trust, our relationship has been strengthened,'” she said.

Sophie also has two other children aged 17 and 12, and had another baby this year.

She first discovered when Manon was ten that she was not her biological daughter.

"It was like I'd been knocked down," she reminisced while remembering the shocking moment she discovered the truth.

"I thought 'Oh my god, the babies were swapped at birth.'"

She said breaking the news to Manon was devastating.

“I knew from the moment I told her the news I would change her life forever. I was scared, very scared,” she said.

“I worried that when the other parents found out about her existence they'll want to take her back.”

“We have a close relationship a bond of love and trust, our relationship has been strengthened,” Manon said in the TLC episode when speaking about her relationship with her mother.

Serrano first said in December 2014: "It's too difficult, so we each went our separate ways as it's so distressing."

The two French families made worldwide headlines in 2014 when they were awarded nearly two million euros in compensation.

A court in the southern town of Grasse ordered the clinic at the centre of the mix-up in the French Riviera city of Cannes to pay 1.88 million euros, six times less than what the families had initially asked for.

The clinic was ordered to pay 400,000 euros to each of the swapped babies -- who are now adult women -- and 300,000 euros to three parents concerned and 60,000 euros to three siblings.

Serrano first said in December 2014:

However, the court threw out a suit against doctors and obstetricians also brought by the family.

Serrano, 38 at the time, voiced her joy and "relief" at the decision outside the court to reporters.

"Finally, after so many years, the error has been recognised. Now, I'm cleared of everything. I've no reason any more to feel guilty for anything," Serrano told French television channel iTele.

Gilbert Collard, a lawyer for one of the families, said they were "completely satisfied with the decision" and there was no question of an appeal.

The story began on July 4, 1994, when Serrano gave birth at a hospital in Cannes.

The mother and daughter spoke to media outside a court room in France. Source: Getty Images.

The baby suffered from jaundice and doctors put her in an incubator equipped with lights to treat the problem along with another affected newborn girl.

An auxiliary nurse unwittingly switched them and although both mothers immediately expressed doubt about the babies, pointing to their different hair lengths, they were sent home anyway.

Ten years later, troubled by the fact his daughter bore no resemblance to him with her darker skin, Manon's father did a paternity test that revealed he was not her biological parent.

Serrano then discovered she was not Manon's mother either, prompting a probe to try to find the other family who had been handed their biological daughter.

The investigation revealed that at the time of the births in 1994, three newborns suffered from jaundice -- the two girls and a boy -- and the clinic only had two incubators with the special lights.

The girls were therefore put together in one incubator.

Sophie said in 2014 she had hoped to win "recognition" for the case, "so as to free us from all this guilt about not having been able to protect your kid, not having insisted when we saw there was a problem."

News break – April 22