A woman accidentally discovered that she was one of three babies switched at birth 28 years ago.
Raylane Amaral, 28, decided to do an AncestryDNA test which led to the shocking discovery that her mother wasn’t related to her, but it went even deeper.
Amaral lives in the United States now, but she got the DNA results back while she was on vacation visiting family on Jan. 24 in Cajazeiras, Paraiba State, Brazil — which is where the initial switch happened.
After uploading the results to the MyHeritage website, she got a notification about having a possible biological brother with different parents.
“The first feeling was one of surprise…thinking, ‘What do you mean, a brother?’ ” Amaral told a local news outlet. “Immediately after being surprised, I got excited about the possibility of having a half-brother on my father’s side. The shock was even greater when I realized it would be a ‘full’ sibling, with both the same father and mother.”
This led to a web of discoveries, ultimately revealing that two other girls were also switched at birth at the Dr. Deodato Cartaxo Maternity Hospital in Cajazeiras on Aug. 5, 1994.
If neither Amaral nor her discovered biological brother Lennon Carvalho ever used the website, no one would have ever known about the switch.
“The feeling of being on holiday disappeared as soon as I saw the results of the first exam, which showed a kinship with Lennon,” Amaral said. “It was a huge shock and also very painful to bring this news to my family, especially to Mum.”
Amaral unsuccessfully reached out to Carvalho, 30, on Instagram but eventually found him on LinkedIn and sent him a message: “This is probably going to be the weirdest message you’ll ever receive on LinkedIn, but I don’t think you got my message on Instagram. Are you, by any chance, from Paraiba and have you done a DNA test with MyHeritage?”
He told Brazilian media that he started using MyHeritage to discover which countries his DNA originated from.
“On this same site, when you register data, you end up having some combinations, distant cousins, third or fourth degree. I did find some,” he shared.
Amaral explained the high DNA match and asked Carvalho some questions, finding out that she was born in the same hospital and on the same day as his sister Milena.
Carvalho looked at Amaral’s LinkedIn photo and noticed she looked very similar to his mother, Luisa Maria.
“So, I don’t know what to say. You look just like my mother. I don’t know what to think,” Carvalho, who lives in Ireland, shared with Amaral. “In fact, there has always been a story that when my mother was giving birth to my sister, there was another woman also giving birth in the same room and at the same time.”
Once Carvalho broke the news to his mother, Milena and Amaral took a DNA test on Feb. 2, and the results came out on Feb. 27.
“The wait for the DNA result was painful. Time seemed to stand still. The anxiety to have a definitive answer was very high,” Amaral said.
She continued, “At the same time, given all the facts, I thought the exchange would be confirmed with the result, but I had a lot of hope that everything could be just a mistake in the first result and a great coincidence that Milena and I were born on the same day and place. It would be much easier for everyone.”
As thought, the DNA test revealed that Amaral was not biologically related to the woman who she thought was her mother, Marlucy, but rather to Luisa Maria.
But the twist in the discovery came when the results showed that Milena was not biologically related to either woman — which meant a third baby born that day must’ve also been switched.
Amaral admitted she felt relieved, in part, yet still uneasy about the fact that the woman who raised her was unsure who her biological daughter was.
She continued searching for women from Cajazeiras born on Aug. 5,1994, upon her return to the United States, and she found a woman named Marcelma Bezerra, who had a striking physical resemblance to her family.
Marcelma and Marlucy did a DNA test on March 29, which ultimately came back as a match two weeks later.
“I am more relieved, compared to the apprehension 20 days ago. I am better, I am trying to reconcile, to join, to be one family, never to divide,” Marcelma told a local news outlet.
Once that was confirmed, Milena and the woman who raised Marcelma, Maria de Fatima, took a DNA test and discovered that they were biologically related.
By the end of the investigation, it was concluded that, biologically, Amaral was Luisa Maria’s daughter, Marcelma was Marlucy’s daughter and Milena was Maria de Fatima’s daughter.
Luisa Maria’s family’s lawyer, Joao de Deus, said all three families will be filing lawsuits for damages.
“We are acting on behalf of the girls who were swapped, their parents, and their siblings, all of whom have different rights to compensation for damages, especially emotional pain due to the suffering,” de Deus said. “Many of them are currently undergoing therapy and counseling due to the trauma caused by the news.”
“We hope for justice to find peace in our hearts,” Luisa Maria said.
Due to a 2018 law that states that paper hospital records more than 20 years old can be disposed of, the hospital’s legal department has claimed there is nothing in their records for August 1994.
“I really hope it was a mistake, an accident… All of this is already so traumatic that finding out that it may have been done intentionally would bring us more suffering,” Amaral said. “But I hope that the person responsible appears and pays for it.”