Relatives of two children apparently switched at birth three years ago have met face-to-face for the first time, the pastor for one of the families said Saturday.
Paula Johnson met with Larry and Rosa Chittum on Friday afternoon near Charlottesville, said the Chittums' pastor, Butch Grow. Each side reassured the other that they are not interested in seeking custody of the child currently being raised by the other, Grow said.
The two 3-year-old girls at the center of the case, Callie Marie Johnson and Rebecca Chittum, did not attend the meeting. The Chittums are Rebecca's paternal grandparents.
"They talked, and Paula Johnson said she did not want to hurt them by taking Rebecca," said Grow, who spoke with the Chittums about the meeting. "Nor did they want to hurt her by taking Callie."
The baby switch was discovered last month when genetic tests on Callie Marie showed that Ms. Johnson was not her biological mother. Officials at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, where the children were born, believe Rebecca is the other baby sent home with the wrong parents. Results of genetic tests that could confirm that may be known as early as Monday.
Grow said Ms. Johnson was joined at the meeting by her ex-boyfriend, Carlton Conley, and her mother. One of Rebecca's aunts also attended.
Rebecca's grandparents, who live in Buena Vista, have been caring for her since July 4, when her parents, Whitney Rogers and Kevin Chittum, died in a car crash.
Rosa Chittum said she was not yet ready to talk at length about the baby-switching or about Friday's meeting with Ms. Johnson. She said, however, that her family was encouraged by the meeting and "really liked Paula."
Rebecca's maternal grandparents, who could not attend the Friday meeting because of a scheduling conflict, met with Ms. Johnson on Saturday at a church in Staunton.
"We looked at a few pictures and talked old times," said Tommy Rogers, the toddler's grandfather.
Cynthia Johnson, a lawyer who is representing Paula Johnson, did not return calls seeking comment about her client's meeting with the Chittums.
Michael S. Irvine, a lawyer for the Chittums, said no lawyers attended the meeting. He said the Chittums told him the meeting was pleasant.
"We decided we thought it would be good to get together without the lawyers and just get acquainted, have a cola," Irvine said. "Everything went well."
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