As she sat in the room, Lydia Fairchild’s mouth was completely dry. She shook her head and tried to speak but she could barely put together a sentence. Under the bright office lights, she suddenly felt faint and asked the public service officials for a glass of water. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Clearly, there had been a mistake.
The officers ignored her request. They just kept repeating the same questions. Who was she and who did the children belong to? Lydia’s head was swimming. It was impossible! How could she have carried and given birth to children that weren’t connected to her by DNA? Lydia put her head in her hands and began to sob. The young mom had to think fast or she was about to lose everything.
Lydia and her partner Jamie had an instant connection and the young couple was quick to have their first child. Even though the passion burned brightly, they experienced many up and down arguments. As a result, they separated while Lydia was still pregnant.
She never expected to be a single mother at 21 years old but remained hopeful that she and Jamie would reconnect. Would they be able to work through their problems and reconcile? It seemed that a happy ending was in the future. One year later Lydia and Jamie received unexpected news!
A second child, yes! Lydia gave birth to their second child exactly one year later. This time again, they experienced a rough patch and Jamie was not living with Lydia and their children. In one more year, she gave birth to their third child. Because the couple separated, Lydia began researching all her options to provide for her family
She found a simple government program, which would provide her with monthly deposits to use towards the wellbeing of her kids. All that was required was a simple DNA test and the application was finished. Lydia and Jamie both sent in their blood work and didn’t think for a moment the state would have any suspicion or questions.
In December 2002 Lydia received a call from the prosecutor’s office about her recent application for government support. She asked if she could receive her results over the phone and was surprised that she had to go into the office.
As she drove towards her appointment she was convinced something was wrong with Jamie’s paternity. She didn’t know what they could have found but after delivering both her children she wrongly assumed she could be the problem. Lydia’s journey was about to take a strange twist.
As Lydia sat in the prosecutor’s office she began to laugh. Surely there had been a mistake. Lydia knew for a fact these were her biological children. She had carried both children to term and remembered the experience vividly.
As she continued to laugh, she realized the legal members in front of her had grave expressions. No one in the room was smiling or understood why Lydia found this humorous. Lydia told them she assumed she had been called down to confirm Jamie’s paternity sample and was blown away by what she found out.
The shocked mother found out that her DNA doesn’t match either of her children. Jamie’s DNA however was a 99% match! Lydia thought she must be dreaming. Especially since she was a single mother, she felt like someone was playing a cruel joke.
She began to ask the prosecution how the father could be a DNA match but the mother was not and found out they had questions of their own. The room became very tense as the actual meaning of the meeting became clear to Lydia.
The prosecution office did not view this as a laughing matter. This was a serious offense and began questioning the young mother about her identity and who the children “really” belonged to.
It all felt like the script of a bad movie. Lydia kept repeating that she was the mother, there was no other mother around. As she continued to answer even more bizarre questions, Lydia began to panic. What would it take for the government to believe these were her biological children?
Since the DNA results had come back at 0% for Lydia the government was convinced she was attempting Welfare fraud. The prosecution asked questions ranging from “did your sister give birth to these children”, and “ did you kidnap these children”?
Their office was convinced Lydia was using the children to get money from the government and demanded she reveal her true identity. They told the shocked mother that the odds of her children being her own were a billion to one. She was desperate… could she now even prove that they were her kids?
Lydia never thought she would have to prove that her children were scientifically linked to her. It felt like she was living a nightmare. As she left the prosecution office they told her they would need evidence to support her claims, but if science wasn’t on her side – what were her options?
Lydia reached out to her family and everyone was shocked. They all knew she had given birth naturally and also understood the ups and downs of her relationship with Jamie. Her mother told her to stay calm and get the hospital records, but her father began to get skeptical.
Even though her family knew she had delivered her own children they couldn’t make sense of or understand the puzzling DNA results. Lydia’s father was especially skeptical. His daughter lived in a different state and he began to question her version of events.
Was it possible his daughter had committed a crime or done something deserving of investigation? No one could understand the science behind the situation and Lydia began to realize the world was turning against her.
Lydia’s children and Jamie were re-tested 3 times to eliminate lab error. Lydia’s children were so young there was no way for her to explain what was happening and she felt like a terrible mother.
Her kids didn’t understand the experience, and giving blood was scary and painful to toddlers. The process took an emotional toll, and all Lydia could do was hope the results would come back positive. Lydia still didn’t understand what the government was willing to do in the name of science.
All three of the re-tests came back with a zero biological match to Lydia. With the extra test results, the prosecution office let Lydia know their expected course of action. Since she could not prove these were her biological children they would begin moving forward charging her with fraud.
An intense fear set into Lydia’s heart. How long would she have to convince the government these were children? As she listened to the prosecution outline their plan, she felt as if she was drowning and no one would be able to rescue her.
The prosecution also explained they would be filing a petition with the courts to remove her children. They told Lydia to watch for her court summons. She was currently pregnant with her third child and was hearing she could lose her first two.
Lydia called her mother in hysterics. She couldn’t even understand the words that were coming out of her daughter’s mouth. Between sobs, Lydia’s mother understood the gravity of the situation and immediately booked transportation to be by her side.
The reason why the prosecution was so skeptical is that DNA is supposed to be 100% reliable. It’s an individual genetic blueprint, and each person has a unique set of DNA cells. In families, a child will inherit half of their DNA from their mother and a half from their father.
With no trace of Lydia in her children, the government couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t tell them the truth. They began to check missing children’s reports and filed a court date to meet Lydia in court. In a different state, another mother was experiencing an eerily similar situation.
Karen Keegan in Boston MA was going through the same issue as Lydia. In her mid-fifties, all of her children were grown up but the family discovered a unique situation when Karen required a kidney transplant.
Karen was facing multiple health issues and needed emergency surgery. All three of her adult sons were tested to find out which kidney would be a match for their mother. While everyone expected at least one match, they were in shock when the doctor called and said none of her children would be a match. Karen’s family was racing against the clock to understand these strange results.
Karen and her husband called all of their children to the house. The sons expected to find out which one was the match for their mother’s surgery. Preliminary tests revealed that Karen wasn’t a match with any of her children and the local hospital was stunned
The family had grown up in this town and been delivered at the hospital. The hospital staff knew for sure that Karen was biologically related to her children, why was the DNA not a match? While Karen was struggling with her health she also worried her children wouldn’t see her as their mother anymore. Her health was rapidly declining, the doctors found a quick fix but couldn’t answer the questions on everyone’s mind.
Doctors found out that Karen’s husband was a match for a kidney transplant, but recommended she be moved to a different medical team. A year after the surgery Karen was back in the hospital looking for more answers.
Her new doctor was very intrigued and had never seen anything like Karen’s case. She began to do a new round of testing. In this third attempt, Karen’s youngest son was tested for the first time and was a positive match with his mother.
With this surprising new result, the medical community was completely flabbergasted. Karen’s doctors realized they had a medical mystery on their hands. Would they be able to solve Karen’s dilemma and also provide the answer for Lydia’s legal struggle?
Lydia still didn’t know about a similar case happening miles away. The cases would not become linked until the very last moment. Would Karen’s doctors manage to save two families?
The prosecution’s office was convinced Lydia was committing welfare fraud and wanted to arrest her and take away both the children. Lydia’s family was a mix of emotions, but she did have one faithful supporter through the strange twist in events.
Every day Jamie & Lydia were convinced it would be the last day they would see their children. The toll on Lydia’s mind and the body was becoming dangerous. Could Jamie do anything to protect his family? One conversation with the prosecution office could change everything.
The prosecution office was convinced Lydia and Jamie were hiding the truth. Jamie’s paternity was a scientific match but the courts wanted to know if he had donated his sperm for in vitro fertilization. They examined his estranged relationship with Lydia for hours.
Jamie confirmed that he had witnessed the birth of the children but no one would believe his first-hand account as the father. Suspicion just kept growing. The couple pulled their children’s medical records including the registration at the hospital and was still told their family was fraudulent.
During this process, Lydia was pregnant with her third child. Jamie was once again the father, but would the couple lose this baby and its two siblings? Lydia was interrogated three times and began to keep a journal of the experience.
The mom said she was happy to do a lie detector and yet no one gave her one. She was frustrated and kept repeating that she was the mother. The day of her court appearance was getting closer on the calendar. Would a judge believe her without scientific proof?
Every day Lydia became increasingly paranoid her children would be taken from her. The pain of waking them up and getting them ready for daycare became overwhelming. Due to Lydia’s children being so young she couldn’t explain to them what was happening.
Thousands of miles away, Karen’s medical team reached a valuable conclusion. They were eager to publish their findings in a medical journal, but would the medical community accept the rare results?
Karen was happy to become a medical guinea pig and was given many tests. The doctors were intrigued by this puzzle and wondered if Karen was a “chimera”. A Chimera is defined as a single organism that contains two sets of DNA.
While chimeras are rare this may be the missing piece to both Karen & Lydia’s DNA puzzle. It would be the reason why neither woman’s DNA showed up in their biological children. Only 40 cases have been proven worldwide – Karen would need to undergo a series of more intrusive tests for doctors to be sure.
One doctor suggested the answer for figuring out if someone is a Chimera can be traced back to the womb. The doctor suggested a Chimera is formed when pregnancy starts with 2 embryos. Early in the pregnancy, one embryo absorbs the other, including the second set of DNA.
Chimera’s have two complete sets of DNA in their bodies. Someone who is Chimeric can have a completely normal outward appearance, but the secret will be found in a specific blood test. Would Karen agree to more tests? Her body and these results would be going into medical history.
After reaching a dead-end with blood work, doctors realized they had to go deeper. The team needed to find a place in Karen’s body with tissue that held her second set of DNA. They began by testing a piece of hair and scraping Karen’s cheek.
When those tests came back with only Karen’s original DNA strain they retrieved specimens from her thyroid tissue and bladder. Getting the results were painfully slow, but Karen’s family was patient. Their family was not being threatened by the law, unlike Lydia…
While doctors were working away to prove Karen’s double DNA – Lydia still had no clue how to prove her case. The date had arrived and she was expected to make a substantiated argument and convince the legal system these were her children.
Everyone believed that Lydia was lying because of the DNA results. Lydia couldn’t even convince a lawyer to take her case and she appeared without any legal cousel. All the mother could do was try again to explain, but her words were falling on deaf ears.
The judge didn’t even hesitate to rule in favor of the prosecution. Lydia and Jamie were devastated as their worse fears came true. The judge ordered both children be taken to separate foster homes, but the question remains about Lydia & Jamie’s third child.
So far in the case, science had won but Lydia was visibly carrying this child. She had been pregnant through the proceedings and was due to be induced next week. The thought of loosing her third baby was too much for the young woman to bear.
During the court proceedings, the judge ruled in favor of the prosecution, and both of Lydia’s children were granted guardianship by the state. The second part of the ruling was that someone had to attend Lydia’s third birth and take immediate bloodwork from the mother and newborn baby.
Could Lydia’s results save her entire family or prove that this third child was also not biologically Lydia? The emotional rollercoaster of losing custody of her two children, delivering a third baby, and then waiting for the results left Lydia exhausted and constantly terrified.
Lydia and Jamie didn’t know if they wanted the tests to come back positive or negative. If the test results were positive then the court could potentially prove the couple was lying about their other two children. If the results came back negative, then the couple risked losing their third child to a scientific nightmare neither of them understood.
Would the test results help keep Lydia & Jamie’s family together or continue to tear them apart? How was Karen’s scientific battle going to be linked to this struggling family miles away? Both families were holding their breath as the results revealed what everyone suspected
The test results proved that Lydia was not biologically related to her third child. The lab technician that had run the tests had seen the physical birth and was now a key witness for Lydia’s defense. Lydia was finally able to find a lawyer to take her case and the pair made a strategy on her defense.
Lydia’s legal team stumbled upon a medical report on Chimerism – this would finally connect the women’s case. This medical report was written by Karen’s medical team. It gave a new challenge to Lydia’s local medical professionals but the truth was about to be revealed in the last place anyone expected it.
In Karen’s battle, both of her brothers and mother had been tested to try and find the link and family DNA strain. Based on all the DNA evidence gathered, Karen’s children appeared to be genetically linked to their father and Karen’s brother. Geneticists were thrilled with this latest development!
This was the missing DNA strain that doctors were waiting to find. It proved a relationship to Karen through her father’s & brother’s DNA, which in turn connected Karen to her children. At this point, Karen’s genetics were only traceable to her youngest son. What did this latest development mean for an otherwise invisible mother?
Karen’s doctors finally found the second set of DNA in her thyroid tissue. The doctors were able to examine the different DNA found in Karen’s body. She was one person with two exact sets of DNA. The team was able to prove more places in Karen’s body with both sets of DNA.
Now that Karen’s doctors had mapped out a way to prove someone was a Chimera, Lydia’s legal team reached out. They were hopeful that Karen’s medical team could prove using Lydia’s tissue in the same process for Karen. The only difference was Lydia needed the results as soon as possible. How could the medical team rush the process and help this family end their nightmare?
Lydia was running out of time but her medical team did find a link to prove Lydia’s mother and Lydia’s children were related. The same way that Karen’s medical team had proven her children were related to her brother and father.
Would the courts accept this proof to reunite this family and end this ongoing nightmare? Lydia was still not on paper related to her children but with a connection in her family tree, it was the closest they were going to get. The judge began to re-evaluate the evidence and delivered the final blow.
The courts accepted this medical proof and reunited the family. The proceedings had gone on for 16 months and also opened up a new dialogue on how much we should trust DNA in custodial suits. For Lydia & Jamie’s family, they are incredibly relieved and thankful to Karen and what her body revealed.
After supporting each other through the surreal process, the couple is officially together and taking the necessary time and steps to heal from the grueling legal process. With plans for a wedding in the future, they don’t think they’ll be having any more children in the future.