Saturday Star

Switched at birth – lived to repent

A nurse’s mistake changed their lives for good… and for bad. Two boys and their mothers look back over years of heartbreak, confusion and dread


NTIL they reached the age of two years, Robyn Dawkins’s and Gavin Clinton Parker’s lives were just like any other toddler’s.

But then, although they could not have known it at the time, their whole lives were turned upside down.

Their mothers, Sandy Dawkins and Megs Clinton Parker, made the devastatin­g discovery that a nurse at Nigel Hospital had on the day both mothers were discharged mistakenly given them the wrong babies.

Nearly two years later a dispute over Gavin’s paternity led to the discovery that he was not Megs’s son.

After the initial devastatio­n and shock, both women decided to keep the babies they had raised for 20 months.

Robyn was raised by Sandy who was poor and a single mum, struggling to make ends meet just outside Joburg.

Gavin was raised by wealthy Megs in Pieter maritzburg.

In an interview with Australia’s utes last week, the women talked of their regret at not switching the babies back, there and then.

“In retrospect, yes, we [should have swopped the boys back]. Because in time to avoid them getting hurt – in time to avoid a lot of people getting hurt. We’ve actually – I personally feel we’ve done a lot more damage,” said Sandy. “The heartbreak would have been unbelievab­le, but I think there would have been a lot less damage done.”

But at the time both mothers were more concerned with the babies they had raised up to that point, although they had started to wonder about their biological sons.

“You see, initially I think you protect the one you’ve got. You know, the first two days of

Ushock. Then the curiosity comes. Now, hold on a second, um… it’s not as easy as that – where’s my baby? You know,” said Megs. Journalist Peter Overton explained that 60 Minutes had met the families 16 years ago when they spoke to journalist Richard Carleton.

Robyn had said during that interview: “We do things together, we get up to mischief sometimes, but at least we – we know each other. Bye Gav, love you.

“If we weren’t swopped, I don’t think we would have had a good time, because we are like brothers to each other. It’s not easy. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

But by the time Robyn was 15, the grim realities of his meagre life with Sandy were hitting home, Overton said.

“It is difficult. If I’ve ever wanted anything, I’ve had to work towards it. I’ve never just had it come to me. I’m not saying I’ve never had anything. What I’m saying is… Gavin gets things easy.”

The year was 2004. Gavin, living Robyn’s life, was very comfortabl­e with his lot. Overton asked Gavin whether he ever wanted to live with Sandy?

“Not really. I’m happy down here,” he replied.

Did he feel sorry for Robyn, Megs’s biological son? “Not really,” he said.

But Megs wanted her boy back, he was becoming something of a lost boy. And so, with her encouragem­ent, Robyn left Sandy’s home and went to live with her and Gavin. For a while, Megs had everything she wanted, while Sandy had nothing. But the confusing situation started to take a toll on her as well as both the boys.

Soon the son she fought for became the son she fought with, principall­y over Robyn’s attitude to his new school.

Megs described living with SHARE your Then & Now story with us and win…

Holiday Inn turned 60 this year, and to celebrate this momentous milestone we are offering travellers the chance to win a weeklong family vacation at any Holiday Inn in the world. With 1 234 Holiday Inn

 ??  ?? THEN AND NOW: Above: Megs Clinton Parker (left) and her non-biological son Gavin Clinton Parker; Sandy Dawkins (right) with her son Robyn Dawkins. Below: Megs and Gavin (left) and Sandy and Robyn (right).
THEN AND NOW: Above: Megs Clinton Parker (left) and her non-biological son Gavin Clinton Parker; Sandy Dawkins (right) with her son Robyn Dawkins. Below: Megs and Gavin (left) and Sandy and Robyn (right).
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa