Sicilian mums Caterina Alagna and Melissa Fodera, from the same fishing village, were both 23 years old when they gave birth to baby girls 15 minutes apart as the clock ticked toward midnight on New Year's Eve 1998.
When it was time for the mothers and newborns to head home, Alagna and Fodera, due to a mix up by the hospital (perhaps something to do with that night's festive celebrations?), the two you mothers departed with each others daughters.
Three years later, as Alagna was picking up her daughter Melissa from nursery school, she was shocked to see another child, Caterina, who looked remarkably like her two other biological daughters. When she recognized the little girl’s mother Fodera as the woman she’d shared the maternity ward with, alarm bells rang in her head.
Two weeks later, DNA tests confirmed her suspicions. It was an eventuality that neither one of them had ever imagined would happen. “I challenge anyone to raise a daughter for three years then give her up over a simple mistake,” Fodera said in an interview reported by the The Times.
Everyone knows that the Italians have a particular sense of family, so rather than simply make the swap back, the two families decided it would be best to let everyone get used to the new situation slowly. So, both girls and both sets of parents began spending time together in one house. It worked out very well and the girls were told of their correct family ties when they were 8 years old.
"The girls effectively grew up with four parents and eight grandparents, and the experiment worked… Today they are more like twins than sisters and there is a kind of love which binds the two families," said Mauro Caporiccio, author of the book Sisters Forever, about this extraordinary story.