Video shows the emotional moment a Los Angeles couple was reunited with their biological child after an IVF mix-up left them raising a child that wasn’t actually theirs — a mix-up they say left them “devastated.”
Daphna and Alexander Cardinale said the moment they saw a picture of a blue-eyed, 4-month old baby girl, there was no doubt she was theirs.
“It just made me realize that I had a baby girl out there named Zoe and that I didn’t even know,” said Alexander, 41. “We didn’t even know she existed until that moment.”
The Cardinales filed a lawsuit against the IVF clinic and owner Dr. Eliran Mor on Nov. 8 for medical malpractice, negligence and fraud. According to a video released by their attorney, the other couple who gave birth to Zoe also plans to file a suit against the fertility doctor and his companies.
Both couples had to sign a gestational carrier contract to formalize the exchange before they finally swapped the babies in January 2020.
The lasting effects of losing a child they have bonded with but also gaining their own biological baby has been “heartbreaking,” the Cadinales said in the emotional interview.
“I looked at her and I was so aware that I just didn’t know her at all,” Daphna, 43, said in tears. “So I remember thinking … I was like, ‘Who are you? I don’t know you’ … which is a heartbreaking thing to think of your own daughter.”
The couple said losing the experience of carrying and birthing their own biological child and missing important newborn moments has been painful.
“I missed everything,” Daphna said. “We missed the whole newborn phase. We missed the whole pregnancy. I was losing a baby at the same time I was getting a baby. So there’s grief.”
The Cardinales said the ordeal also has severely affected their 5-year-old daughter, who had already bonded with the baby she considered her sister.
“It was the hardest thing in the world to have to tell Olivia, our older daughter,” Alexander said. “Out of all of this, that’s still the biggest trauma for me … to have to explain to a five-year old that the child, the sister that they imprinted on and loved … is not their sister. I mean, she retreated a little bit from us. … She doesn’t let us hug her and kiss her. She kind of has retreated a little bit. We try so hard to help her and to give her the support that she needs. This has ultimately affected her in a profound way that I can’t verbalize.”