360
July 25, 2008

Switched at Birth

On a summer day in 1951, two baby girls were born in a hospital in small-town Wisconsin. The infants were accidentally switched, and went home with the wrong families. One of the mothers realized the mistake but chose to keep quiet. Until the day, more than 40 years later, when she decided to tell both daughters what happened. How the truth changed two families' lives—and how it didn't.

Owen Freeman

Prologue

Host Ira Glass introduces four characters: Kay McDonald, who raised a daughter named Sue, and Mary Miller, who raised a daughter named Marti. In 1994, Mary Miller wrote letters to Sue and Marti, confessing the secret she'd kept for 43 years: The daughters had been switched at birth and raised by the wrong families. This week's entire show is devoted to the story of Mary Miller's secret and what happened when both families finally learned the truth. (6 1/2 minutes)

Act Two

Jake Halpern tells the mothers' sides of the story. At 69, Kay McDonald had to cope not only with the news that her daughter wasn't her own, but that another mother had known the whole time. And Mary Miller explains why she was tormented by her secret but unable for decades to share it. (26 minutes)

Song:

“Hello Mother” by The Canton Spirituals