A Texas couple was reunited with their biological son late Monday after DNA tests confirmed that the child had been switched with another baby soon after he was born in an El Salvador hospital.
Richard Cushworth and Mercedes Casanellas feared their child could have been sold to human traffickers after they realized that the child they had been given to bring home to Dallas had darker skin.
Mercedes Casanellas, a native of El Salvador, gave birth to a baby boy in her home country back in May. Pictures released by the family showed her cuddling a light-skinned baby who was named Jacob. However, when Casanellas was released from the hospital after a day-and-a-half, she was given a different baby.
"When they brought her baby to her, she told them 'this isn't my baby,'" Aaron Beishline, a friend of Cushworth, told Dallas TV station WFAA. "And they said, 'Oh yeah this is your baby.' She said, 'Well, this baby isn't the same color as my baby.' (They responded), 'Oh well babies change color.'''
Casanalles' suspicions grew after she returned to Dallas and the weeks passed. "I would take photos of him and put them next to my husband, trying to find something of us in him," she told a Salvadoran TV station. "I kept trying to convince myself that he was really ours, that over time we would begin to see a resemblance. But my motherly instincts kept telling me that he wasn't mine."
After the DNA test confirmed the couple's fears, they returned to El Salvador. The country's authorities said that Dr. Alejandro Guidos had been taken into custody and investigators were looking into allegations that he may have operated a baby trafficking gang.
The couple were in court for Dr. Guidos' first appearance, during which he protested his innocence and was bailed. At one point, Casanalles grabbed at a sheet covering Dr Alejandro Guidos' head and shouted: "Where is my son, doctor? Where is my son?"
"God has given us this child and somehow, somebody has taken him from us, and we want him back," Cushworth, who was born in Great Britain, said at the time.
Hours later, El Salvador's attorney general said the couple's real son had been found. Officials said they were working to reunite the baby given to Casanalles by the hospital with his biological mother as well.