A Mother’s DNA Test Proves that Her Children Aren’t Actually Hers
We often hear about some unbelievable stories and how people got through them- and Lydia’s is definitely up there. What started as a routine examination would shatter everything she knew about herself and her children and would transform their lives and turn it into a living nightmare.
This mother of two, while pregnant with the third, found out that none of her kids matched her during DNA testing. Here’s what happened. This is Lydia Fairchild’s amazing story.
A Fresh Start
26-year-old, Washington resident Lydia Fairchild needed a fresh start when, in 2002, she would find herself separating from her long-time partner and father of her children, Jamie Townsend. The two, who had two young children together had had a rocky relationship which resulted in them being on again and off again for several years.
But this time was different. And here’s why.
Prepared to Do it Alone
Not once when they had ended their relationship before, had Lydia been pregnant. But this time, she was. Determined to make a new life for her and her children, she began the process of making sure that everything would be in order and that she and her children would be secure. But the steps Lydia were about to take would open a can of worms so rotten, she would wish it had never happened.
Children Come First
Now split up from Jamie, Lydia no longer had the support of the two-income household that she was used to and she knew that one, hers, would not be enough to sustain herself and her family, especially with another child on the way. She decided to get help from the government which required her to share some information.
Among the things needed would be Lydia’s financial information, in addition to some samples of DNA from both her and the children’s father. As far as she was concerned, there was nothing wrong with what was being asked of her, so she volunteered the information freely and so did Jamie, the father.
The DNA Test
Lydia and Jamie had to get the samples prior to requesting any assistance from the government, so they did so and waited for the information to come back. There was no anxiety at all because the two knew, without a doubt that the children belonged to them and that this was just a formality.
Jamie’s results were the first to come back from the lab and he was proven to be the father of the children.
A Big Question Mark
But there was an issue with Lydia’s which required another step to be taken in order for her to get her results. She completed the government assistance form in the meantime and in December of 2002, was invited to Washington to talk to a state prosecutor about the results.
To her it was a bit strange, but she went anyway, wondering what it could possibly be about.
Something Was Up
Lydia met with the prosecutor, and while she was a little concerned about the meeting, she was sure that there would be no trouble at all. In fact, she thought that she was just scheduled to meet with a social worker that was assigned to her by the government. But from the moment she entered the room, she knew something was wrong- she could’ve seen it all over the agents’ faces.
After the greetings were out of the way, Lydia was grilled with questions about her identity, making it seem as though the information she’d given them in the government assistance form was completely incorrect. She then realized that this was not the meeting she thought it would be, but more of a cross-examination. She was puzzled, but answered their questions anyway.
The Interrogation Begins
As the questions kept coming, Lydia got the feeling that there was a real problem at hand and that something was seriously wrong with her application. The prosecutors did not believe her when she said she was the children’s mother.
Things got heated with the officials and she began to get more tense as the seconds went by.
A Hostile Environment
Unsure of why she was being treated with such hostility, she got the idea that maybe the government thought she wanted to keep the money for herself and not use it for her children. Lydia then began to think that the government was accusing her of fraud, which was a criminal offense and a crime she could spend lots of time in prison for.
But she wasn’t sure how they even got to that conclusion. So, they showed her!
She Was Not The Mother!
While the DNA test did reveal that Jamie was the father of the children, like everyone thought, Lydia WAS NOT THE BIOLOGICAL MOTHER. It was crazy because Lydia knew that she and Jamie had had sex and she knew that she had birthed each of the two kids. But the DNA results said otherwise.
Her first thought was that the lab samples had been contaminated and that something had gone wrong in the process, but the investigators refused to believe anything she had to say because according to them “DNA did not lie.”
They were basically telling Lydia, that she was not the mother of her own children.
A Fall Down the Rabbit Hole
She soon found herself in a living nightmare that she could not wake from. People began questioning her sanity and her own memories of birthing the children simply because the DNA did not match.
Although confused and in a daze, Lydia stood strong and believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that she was the mother of her two children. She knew that she has conceived them with Jaime, grew them in her womb and carried them to term and had birthed them, with witnesses present.
Placed Under the Lens
But Lydia wasn’t the only one placed under a magnifying glass because of this; Jamie was too. He was accused of having these children with another woman because he was their biological father and somehow got Lydia involved in some way. There was so much back and forth between her and the state so she did the one thing she knew would help: she provided proof.
She went to the one person she not only knew would believe her, but also the person who documented her journey and was there through it all.
A Doctor’s Support
Lydia paid a visit to Dr. Leonard Dreisbach, her obstetrician. She knew that he could be the one person the prosecutors might listen to because of his medical background and the qualifications that showed he specialized in childbirth. Dr. Dresibach corroborated Lydia’s story, stating that he had done the procedure enough times to know “when a woman was giving birth before his eyes.”
So, he promised Lydia to be her witness and that he would testify on her behalf if it came to that. Lydia, although a bit relieved, found herself in need of a lawyer, because even with the support of her doctor, prosecutors still doubted her story.
Even More Questions
Although the visit to the doctor paid off and may have provided some kind of proof that Lydia had given birth to “her children,” it didn’t work out quite the way she planned. You see now, instead of believing she was a crazy woman who made up childbirth stories, they believed that she has either stolen her ex’s children or that she could be the children’s surrogate. It made sense to them because there was a record of her giving birth but the DNA showed that she shared no DNA with them.
The next thing Lydia would have to do was to get lawyered up and that she did. She found Alan Tindell, a man willing to take on her difficult and complicated case, but even he had his doubts. Alan, like any sensible lawyer, questioned Lydia during their first meeting to make sure that she really did mother those children.
The Need for Strength
So, the lawyer asked her to be honest with him and tell him whether the kids were actually her siblings’ children. He also asked her if she kidnapped them and then tried to pass them off as her own. Lydia vehemently denied the accusations and was adamant that the kids were hers. And so, he agreed to represent her in court.
Even with a lawyer and doctor on her side, things still weren’t looking up for Lydia. At this point, she was heavily pregnant with her third child, all alone trying to parent two young children, was being called a liar by most people and was possibly on the verge of losing her children. To make things worse, she had received a summons to appear in court.
Because of the accusations made against her, Lydia was very overwhelmed by everything that was going on in her life. She even turned to her family to find a way to prove that she wasn’t lying.
The Toll Was Too Much
The entire thing was understandably just too much for Lydia to bear and she would burst into tears spontaneously during dinners. Her children would try to comfort her, but they had no idea what was actually going on because she had tried her best to keep them away from all of it. Knowing that the process could tear them apart, she tried to keep the peace at home, although she wasn’t always able to hold it all in.
Scared of losing the people she loved the most in the world, Lydia became more frustrated because she knew that she wasn’t lying. To add to all the stress, she was about to pop any second with her and Jamie’s third child.
The Third Child
The day of the birth of their third child was here and it was a less than happy occasion. Because of the current investigation, Lydia could not have a normal birth.
With mounting pressure to prove her truthfulness, she gave birth in a room filled with doctors, a group of policemen and a special team sent by the government. It was more like an investigation scene than the birth of a baby.
New Life, Same Result
Scared and extremely uncomfortable, Lydia recounts the situation as being very stressful and painful to an extent. But at least this time, no one could say that she had not given birth to her child. The baby was whisked away for genetic testing, as the other two had been and the results puzzled everyone!
Lydia’s newborn did not share her DNA and it was then that everyone knew that something was seriously wrong.
More and More Tests
Lydia did not have a moment to enjoy the newest addition to her family. Her fears were once again realized when the revelation about the baby’s DNA came to light. She was subjected to even more tests than before and this time, they included getting things like organ, skin and hair samples, in addition to blood tests she had already done.
During the process, Lydia barely kept it together what with all the allegations being thrown at her. So, she changed. Her appetite was almost non-existent and she retreated into her shell more and more as each day passed. But all was not lost, because Lydia would soon find a tiny source of hope to make her believe again.
A Grandmother Steps In
Investigators tried as hard as they could to understand what was going on with the Lydia case and widened the DNA results to her other family members. One of those persons was her mother, who submitted her own to try to help her daughter.
Instead of her mother’s DNA showing no link, it did! The results showed that there was, without a doubt, genetic ties between Lydia’s mother and her children. This gave Lydia the spark of hope she needed and she hoped that investigators could figure out just what was going on.
A Genetic Link
The results linking Lydia’s mother to her children revealed many things, but the most important was that their biological mother was a close relative. The results meant that it had to have been a sibling of Lydia’s. But which one? And how could this be?
The answers would soon reveal themselves, but it would be something so bizarre that no one could have predicted it.
The Media’s Take
But things didn’t happen as quickly as they should have with this case. Before the investigators found out what was truly going on with Lydia and her children, the media caught wind of what was going on and she wasn’t painted in a very flattering light.
She was called a thief, among other things, and people said she was a criminal who needed to be punished for stealing three children and claiming they were hers. The story was out there for the world to see, and so was Lydia’s face.
Painting An Ugly Picture
Some publications took it a step further though. While the investigation had not yet concluded, they made reports that were similar to what the government had first thought. They alleged that Lydia had stolen her ex’s children, knowing full well that they weren’t hers and tried to pass them off as her own.
The publications even included that she was trying to get money from the government to try to support her lifestyle.
One Last Try
Knowing the truth and now having a shred of a chance with the recent news that the children had genetic ties to her, Lydia continued to do everything in her power to not only keep her children, but to keep them safe from what was being said about her and about them.
She took one more screening test, which she was urged to do by her lawyer, which she hoped would be the last.
A Ray of Hope
The cervical screening test would reveal a lot to Lydia, but the most important was that it showed a direct genetic link between her and her kids- something she knew should have been there from the very first test.
She felt relieved when the news came back, and to some extent, vindicated. She cried and cried because she knew that people would see that she had never told a lie. But what was up with the DNA results which caused all of this to happen in the first place?
Meet Karen Keegan
A woman by the name of Karen Keegan, a Boston native, went through a similar situation to Lydia on the other side of the country in 2002. But she wasn’t trying to prove that her children were hers; she needed a kidney transplant.
This is what happened with Karen and how Lydia’s lawyer helped solve her case.
A Question of Relation
The 52-year-old was in need of a kidney transplant. She had three children which were her closest relatives and were thus tested to see if they could be possible donors. After the tests were done, Karen got an unusual call from the doctor, asking her to come in.
She was told that only one of her children matched her DNA, two did not, and that something like this has never happened in their facility’s history.
Where Are the Genes?
The doctor explained to her that children should inherit genes from both of their parents during development in the womb, but Karen’s children, the older two, did not have any of hers. The doctors were more than confused and proceeded to question Karen in a similar way to how Lydia was being interrogated back in Washington.
They asked her where it was that her children came from and tracked down their birth records at the hospital where they were born. They thought that Karen may have had a psychological issue or that she had got caught up in some sort of in vitro treatment that had gone wrong.
The First Clue
Adamant that she had birthed her children, the hospital records checked out, which stumped doctors further. They took swabs from her mouth, tested her hair and blood and still, nothing pointed to Karen being the mother of the children she claimed to have.
Karen got desperate and told her doctor of a thyroid nodule that she had removed recently. The doctors tracked down the sample in a nearby lab and found a clue that would help Karen out.
Finally, A Match!
When the thyroid tissue was tested, it came back that it was a match to her sons’ genetic code. It then dawned on them that Karen was a chimera; she was her own twin. Discovering this information shocked Karen, but it was welcome news, especially compared to the alternative of finding out that her kids were not her own.
But what is a chimera? And what did it have to do with Lydia Fairchild?
A Rare Condition
Chimerism is a very rare condition whose name was inspired by the Greek mythical beast- the chimera. This animal was part goat, part lion and part snake. When it came to human beings, it referred to those people who were born with two different strands of DNA, often located in different parts of their bodies.
The condition is so rare that there are only about 30 documented cases worldwide. And it’s the reason why Lydia could not get a match to her children. But how does something like this happen?
The Birth of a Chimera
A human chimera is made when a baby is meant to be a twin. For one reason or another, the eggs fuse. So instead of there being two babies with two strands of DNA, there is one baby, with two separate strands of DNA. The fetus develops as one baby, the child is born and grows up normally.
Sometimes, the mother isn’t even aware that she was meant to have twins. Nothing problematic usually happens with a chimera, except when it’s time to take DNA tests to prove things like organ matches or that children belong to their parents.
Understanding the Causes
What needs to be understood about chimerism, is that those extra set of genes could be found on or in any part of the surviving twin’s body; they’re not mixed with their twin’s DNA. The process mostly happens spontaneously, but could also take place during the transportation or transferring or fetal cells.
In vitro fertilization increases the risk of chimerism.
The Cases of Karen and Lydia
When it came to Karen, her twin’s DNA, which was removed from her thyroid nodule, matched that of her first two children, proving her to be the mother. It also showed that Karen’s DNA was different in certain places, namely her thyroid (which was hers) and her hair and blood (which was her twin’s).
It could only mean that if Lydia was indeed a chimera, that it was her twin’s DNA which showed up in the tests, and not hers.
Finally, A Plan
Lydia’s lawyer, who was present during the birth and during all that had taken place, was determined that his client be proven the mother of all three of her children. He stumbled onto Karen’s case and there, he found something that could possibly set his client free.
The results from the cervical test he urged Lydia to take proved his theory that she may have been a chimera. It went from being a hunch to a full-blown fact.
Ready for A Takedown
Armed with the information that her cervical screening revealed, as well as Karen Keegan’s case, the two set about restoring Lydia’s good name and making sure that everyone, including the court and the media, knew that she had, in fact, given birth to her children.
They found out that Lydia’s twin’s DNA had taken residence in her womb and was the reason why no genetic link could be found between her and all three of her children in the tests.
The Proof is in the Chimera
The process of bringing forth all the necessary proof was quite easy, especially when compared to the difficult 16 months the Lydia had spent fighting this case. The judge saw the findings and dismissed Lydia’s case immediately.
She even walked out with an apology for being doubted in the beginning.
A Vindicated Woman and Happy Ending
In addition to that, Lydia was granted the federal assistance she requested that had started the entire mess, in order to support herself and her now three children. It was all right with the system now, even though her children had her non-existent twin’s DNA.
Jamie even reentered the picture once it was all over to give their relationship one last shot.
More About Chimerism
It was a lesson for the court that alternative explanations may exist in certain situations regarding DNA matching. When it came to Lydia and Karen’s chimerism, there were no tell-tale signs that they had that status because of their appearances; something that may have happened because their twins were probably meant to be female as well.
But chimerism doesn’t always appear so flawlessly or helps people for the better.
Sometimes It Shows Up, Sometimes It Doesn’t
Some cases of chimerism are easy to spot because there is actually a physical manifestation. Some have different color eyes, which isn’t always the reason behind heterochromia (two eyes with different colors) and others have different skin tones around their body. In animals, it’s easier to spot chimerism because there is almost always some sort of physical sign.
Studies were even done to create true chimeras- animals with body parts from more than one kind of species.
The Dangers of Chimerism
But chimerism isn’t always a good thing. Chimeras who know their status could possibly commit crimes and walk off as being innocent because someone else’s DNA would be found at the scene. It is a plausible outcome, but extensive research on the possible chimera would have to be done- at which point would probably be documented by the government.
Where Lydia is concerned, she could only be thankful that she did not lose her children because of her lawyer’s hard work and dedication.