Lydia feels sick to her stomach. There had to be some kind of mistake, right? This didn’t make sense. None of this made sense. She glances over at her two kids, and she can feel the tears well up in her eyes.
Then suddenly, she saw him, the police officer – his face as hard as stone. He looked at Lydia before whispering something to his colleague. What was going on? Little did this devoted mom know, her entire world was about to be turned upside down.
Lydia had a pretty rocky start to motherhood. She discovered she was pregnant with her first child at 21, however, she and the father had split up before either of them knew of the little life that they had created growing inside her.
Even though the couple had gone separate ways they had a second baby almost a year later — and life became fraught with unthinkable difficulties. Nothing could have prepared her for what was to come.
In the constant on again off again rhythm of Lydia and Jamie’s relationship, she once again found herself alone and now she also had two small mouths to feed and support, not just herself.
Without a job or any way to support her small family, she needed help and she just couldn’t cope with the baby’s needs. She hoped that her life would get better, but little did she know it wouldn’t.
Motherhood wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for Lydia. With two kids and bills to pay, she was struggling. At times she looked over at her kids and just couldn’t feel a connection.
Was she a bad mom for feeling like this? She started to doubt everything she ever knew. And if truth be told, she started to slip; depression started to creep in. Lydia made a difficult decision. She had no other choice.
Lydia applied for welfare benefits when she realized she was in over her head. She would need to get DNA tests to prove that Jamie was the father as was then required by the state prosecutor’s office. As a matter of course, Lydia was also DNA tested.
She went home and waited for much needed financial relief from the state, but that was far from what she would get.
For most mothers, the birth of their baby is a special, albeit painful memory. A memory that mothers cherish for the rest of their lives. But for Lydia, it was a different story.
She couldn’t fully remember the birth of both her children, in fact, she only ever remembered giving birth, then the midwife bringing the baby in. Apart from that, it was all blank in her mind. Soon enough, she would find out the truth, and it was about to turn her world upside down.
A few months later, after the process was near completion, Lydia got a call from the prosecutor’s office. ‘“Well, can’t you give me the results over the phone?” Lydia asked. “You really need to come up to the office,” he replied in a stern tone.
Lydia went up to the office, into the back room and it was just him and a lady. She had no idea what was coming.
They sat there and just stared at her. Finally, she got an answer, and it was exactly the answer she expected: ‘Well, he’s 99% the father,” the man revealed.
For Lydia this was just a formality, she already knew that Jamie was the father, however, they kept talking and nothing they said made any sense at all.
What he was about to say would shake Lydia’s world to the very core. The prosecutor looked her right in the eyes and as soon as she saw his eyes, a terrible feeling hit the pit of her stomach.
She could never have prepared for this. And how could it even be possible?
“I’m sorry,” he said, “but there is absolutely no way that you are the mother.” At first, Lydia was confused, and then she let out a laugh.
This must be a joke, right? Yet as she looked back at him she could see that he was deadly serious. What exactly was going on?
The only thing Lydia could think was that somehow the test results had been messed up, however, the prosecutor was taking matters extremely seriously, and there was a valid reason for his concern. Nonetheless, Lydia was stunned. She couldn’t believe what the DNA results said.
And then the interrogation started, right there in that little back room. Without warning and without mercy.
The questions were endless and accusatory: “Are you Lydia Fairchild? Who are you really? Where did you get these kids from? Did your sister have these children and you are using them to commit welfare fraud?” And there it was, the explanation for everything that was happening to her.
They thought she had just been caught committing fraud and they were relentless, drilling her with their harsh questions.
Lydia’s test results were odd, to say the least. A normal DNA test proving the link between mother and child would show a 50% match when comparing the DNA patterns. The state prosecutor knew there was a 1 in a billion chance that Lydia was the birth mother of both of the children.
Her pattern had zero matches with either of her children. Lydia demanded a retest.
The retest results showed there was no lab error. The family was tested three separate times and each time the tests came back it clearly showed that Lydia was not the boys’ mother and Jamie was the father of both.
In complete hysterics, Lydia called the only person she could, her mother. But not even her mother could provide an explanation. Lydia thought it couldn’t get any worse, but she was so wrong.
With Lydia’s family about to be torn in two by Lydia potentially being put in prison, there was one woman half a thousand miles away named Karen Keegan who was about to save Lydia.
Karen had discovered an extremely rare genetic disorder when she was diagnosed with an illness that required her to receive a new kidney. She had her three children tested but none of her sons matched her DNA, just like Lydia.
Karen would become the only beacon of hope in Lydia’s world, and she didn’t even know that she existed. Karen was working closely with a team of scientific investigators and she was extremely interested in the research.
Despite Karen’s willingness to be a guinea pig, no one knew exactly what to research until a remark pointed them in the right direction.
The lead that set them on the right course came in the form of a comment from a colleague tucked away in a letter. It noted that it was very rare and that only 40 known cases were said to have been known worldwide.
But perhaps it was the answer they were looking for. Was there a possibility that Karen was a chimera?
Chimerism is an extremely rare condition where people have not just one, but two DNA profiles. This is a very rare event and to have someone look externally normal and able to have children, made it a very rare consideration.
The scientists picked up on it and decided to embark on additional testing to establish whether or not Karen was a chimera. Could Karen really be a chimera if she had a second set of DNA? It could explain everything.
Inside the bodies of chimeras, there are not one, but two completely different genetic identities created from separate sets of DNA. Literally two different people in one body.
It sounded impossible, and most of the studied cases reported physical abnormalities, such as completely different skin pigmentations in very unusual, straight lines. Karen didn’t have any and neither did Lydia.
While Karen was hopefully about to get the truth, Lydia was facing the full brunt of the law, being summoned to court to prove her relation to her two young children.
But with her court date just around the corner, Lydia discovered something else that would change everything. There was no coming back from this.
Lydia found out that she was pregnant, and again Jamie was the father. It was too much to bear, and she felt alone and had no idea what to do. No one would believe her.
She called every lawyer she could, but not one of them would take her case. They all told her the same thing. ‘DNA is foolproof. There is no way to win your case.’ It was her vs The State.
The trial went badly for Lydia. The judge agreed that based on the existing evidence, Lydia was not the biological mother. The prosecutors wanted separate guardians to be appointed for each child while the investigations continued.
Lydia felt her heart shatter into a million pieces. How could they do this to her? They were her kids! Would Lydia ever able to prove her innocence? If so, how was she going to do this?
Jamie was standing beside the mother of his children the entire time, also completely baffled. There was no way the kids were in danger, and Lydia was such a good mom. Nothing made sense.
He thought maybe they were being scammed, but it was a lot of effort for someone to go to. And soon enough, things were about to get even more twisted.
The judge was torn. On one hand, the DNA evidence didn’t lie he had no choice but to side with it, but Lydia’s emotions and determination to keep her children was extremely unusual for a person who was ‘trying to work the system’ for benefits.
He ordered a very strange action to be done.
Using the imminent birth of her 3rd baby as a simple experiment, he did something unprecedented. He ordered that somebody be there to witness the birth and to take blood from the baby and Lydia right then and there.
The plan seemed foolproof. Obviously, the results were going to say the new baby is Lydia’s, right? The worried mom had no idea more heartbreak was to come.
When Lydia went into labor everyone was focused on the birth. It was an appallingly difficult time in her life, but she gave birth to a healthy baby.
Blood was immediately taken from them both and she waited in agony for the two weeks to pass to get the results. It felt like Lydia was living in a nightmare, constantly on edge all the time. She couldn’t sleep, she couldn’t eat. She just wanted everything to go back to normal. But little did she know it wouldn’t.
Waiting for the test results, both Lydia and Jamie were living in fear. They knew that any minute now, their kids could get took away, just like that. There was no way they were going to let that happen though.
And finally, the stressed-out couple received the results. Lydia opened them and as soon as she read the results she dropped to her knees. This couldn’t be possible.
The results, when they came back, were mind-boggling. There was no matching DNA between the new baby and mom.
What was she going to do? How was she going to get out to this? Tine was running out for Lydia; she was about to get put in prison and her kids taken away. There was no coming back from this. Lydia was doomed.
There were heinous ideas going through the prosecutor’s mind; from being a surrogate mother, being involved in criminal behavior, to even her having abducted the children from someone.
But recent scientific evidence was about to change everything in his case.
A chimera is essentially a single organism that’s made up of cells from two or more “individuals”—that is, it contains two sets of DNA, with the code to make two separate organisms.
One way that chimeras can happen naturally in humans is that a fetus can absorb its twin. This can occur with fraternal twins if one embryo dies very early in pregnancy, and some of its cells are “absorbed” by the other twin. The remaining fetus will have two sets of cells, its own original set, plus the one from its twin.
Amazingly, Karen, who had a previous experience like Lydia, was finally declared a chimera, and it opened the door for testing to be carried out on Lydia. Everything she had gone through finally had a scientific name to explain it.
The judge, after a multitude of new tests, has proclaimed that Lydia is the mother of all three of her children — just like she’d been saying all along.