In tonight’s episode of ABC’s 20/20, Kimberly Mays, a woman who was switched at birth, is interviewed and talks about her life experience after discovering she was placed with the wrong family.
Kimberly Mays was switched with another girl, named Arlena Twigg, at the hospital, when they were both given to the wrong parents after their births. Mays discovered the switch in 1988 when genetic tests confirmed the switch.
Mays was raised by Barbara and Robert Mays; that couple’s biological daughter, Arlena, was given to Ernest and Regena Twigg, Mays’ actual biological parents. Arlena died when she was 9 years old after undergoing a high-risk open-heart surgery for a congenital heart defect.
At that time, her parents realized she was not their biological child because blood tests done before the operation revealed that her blood type did not match that of her own parents.
Mays Said Being Switched at Birth Ruined Her Life
In an interview with Barbara Walters, Mays said that being switched at birth ruined her life. She said her life was “not normal,” and she had had an identity crisis when she was a teenager.
“I wish I had my life back,” she told Walters. “A normal life. It’s ruined.”
The Twiggs found their biological daughter with the help of the hospital, and they fought to get custody of her in the following months. The biological parents of Mays accused Robert Mays of bribing the hospital to switch the babies at birth due to Arlena’s heart defect, People reported.
Barbara Mays, Robert’s wife, died when Kimberly was two years old. She never knew that the daughter she brought home was actually the biological daughter of another couple.
Mays’ Parents Were Awarded Settlements By the Hospital
After the mistake was realized, both families involved were awarded multi-million dollar settlements by the hospital. They also agreed on visitation rights between the Twiggs and Kimberly.
When she was a teenager, Mays decided to divorce the Twiggs, and she ran away from the Mays, deciding to live at a shelter instead. Just six months later, she moved in with her biological parents.
“Honestly, I had an identity crisis,” Mays told Walters. “I wanted to find out who I was and what my roots were, how they were as a family and a unit.”
She ran away from the Twiggs two years later. She told Walters that she ran away because there was resentment between herself and her biological siblings.
“They just, I guess, harbored resentment at the fact that Regina was so consumed with the switch, so consumed with me,” she said. “I couldn’t handle the resentment, the bickering and arguing and yelling at me. They wanted their mom back.”
Mays went through the money she received from the settlement from the hospital, and she told Walters that she turned to stripping afterward. She said that was to “put a roof over my head and food in my stomach, and diapers on my daughter Jasmine.”
At 18 years old, Mays married her high school sweetheart. The couple had one son together. Mays has six children.