Families of Russian Girls Switched at Birth Get $100,000 Each

ABC News’ Lama Hasan and Michael S. James report:

A judge has awarded the families of two Russian girls switched at birth $100,000 each, and the families may use the money to move the girls closer to each other or into the same home, according to reports.

“It is the largest amount of compensation one can hope to get in Russia, but I haven’t got my head around how I am going to spend it yet,” said one of the mothers, Yulia Belyaeva, according to the BBC.

The two 12-year-old girls, named Irina and Anya, have said they don’t want to leave the mothers and families who raised them.

The girls grew up just a few miles away from each other in the Ural Mountains of eastern Russia.

Their mothers gave birth in the same maternity ward just 15 minutes apart, and their infant daughters were inadvertently given the wrong name tags.

Their true identities were revealed after the ex-husband of Yuliya Belyaeva refused to pay for child care because his daughter, Irina, looked nothing like him. After conducting several DNA tests it emerged that neither adult was Irina’s biological parent.

The DNA tests sent Belyaeva on a search for her own daughter. She remembered that when she was giving birth, another woman was also in labor in the same ward. She suspected that the maternity ward had mixed up their daughters.

An investigation revealed that Irina’s biological father, Naimat Iskanderov, had been raising Anya, Belyaeva’s biological daughter, in a neighboring town.

Now, the families are considering using the award money to move into a single home or neighboring homes, according to The Associated Press, citing Russian media.

“I would like us to share a house so that we don’t worry about her daughter coming to me and the other way round,” Iskanderov said on television, the AP reported.

However, the BBC noted, religious issues could interfere with the plans.  The Iskanderovs are strict Muslims while the Belyaevas are Russian Orthodox Christians.