Manitoba

'He's still my boy,' says Manitoba man who raised baby switched at birth

The father of a baby switched with another one at birth says he is still in shock.

Isaiah Monias finds out 40 years later that he raised another family's son

The father of a baby switched with another one at birth says he is still in shock. 2:38

The father of a baby switched with another one at birth says he is still in shock.

Isaiah Monias found out 40 years after the fact that the boy he thought was his first-born son was from another family. Still, he's optimistic good things will come from the results.  

"I'm not angry about it. I've never been angry," said the Garden Hill First Nation man. 

Luke Monias and Norman Barkman were both born on June 19, 1975, at the federally-run Norway House Indian Hospital. Unbeknownst to their families, the babies were switched.

The men grew up in each other's homes as close friends and would brush off the many people who commented on how much more they resembled each other's families, rather than their own.

Isaiah Monia says he didn't know anything about the switch until DNA tests results confirmed it on Nov. 10.

Norman Barkman, left, and Luke Monias speak to reporters on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at the Manitoba legislature. The two friends recently learned they were switched at birth. (Cameron MacIntosh/CBC)
"I was kind of shocked. Nobody told me about it. Even though my late sister-in-law knew about it, she never told me about it. Probably she didn't want to tell me,' he said. "Probably my late wife told her."

But the elder Monias says the news didn't change anything for him.

"I raised him up as my own son. That's the way it's gonna be," he said of Luke.

Although he admits the connection to Norman Barkman has changed. 

"I know he's been my boy. I call him my boy now." added Monias.

Going home

Luke Monias says after returning to Garden Hill from Winnipeg, the group met with the chief and council and even went on the local TV station to try address the many questions people had. He says although the community has been supportive, he still has low moments.

"I can't really describe it. I feel like I have.... there's another part of me that's saying that I've lived this life that's not for me. This life that I'm living right now was meant for Norman," he said.

Monias says there is some disappointment, too, that the error wasn't discovered sooner. He says he approached Norman Barkman's father, Daniel, six or seven years ago about getting the testing done. Daniel asked him to leave it alone so he did.  But then Daniel passed away and so did his mother, Rosamond Monias.

"She didn't know the truth. I feel sorry for her that she didn't know but I am really happy that my dad is here," he said.

Coming to terms

As for the process of getting to know each other better, Luke says he's being cautious.

"We agreed that we are going to do this slowly so that we adjust to this. Me knowing Rebecca's my mom, I don't want to rush it and just go over there and I want take time slowly to know her," 

There are some that are struggling with the news, like Monias' own five children.

"They are confused too. And they're hurting. They're saying, 'I don't even know where I belong or who I am.' That's what they ask," Monias said.

He says the next step is to get them the help they need to cope with the changes. But the elder Monias, Isaiah, believes they will get through it. 

"Now I have twins!" Isaiah said, laughing. "Yeah, we're all one big family now and that's the way it's going to be."