Just when it felt like nothing could possibly get worse, our world was plunged into even greater chaos. Heavily pregnant and without a job to support herself, she turned to the only place she could – social welfare. Soon, the police were on to her. The personal nightmare and accusations plagued her from the moment she woke to the second she was able to fall asleep, if she slept at all. 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’d 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 and the constant on-again, off-again rhythm of Lydia and Jamie’s relationship.
She once again found herself alone, and now she 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.
Lydia made the 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 a DNA test to prove that Jamie was the father, as was required by the state prosecutor’s office as a matter of course. Lydia was awesome DNA tested. She went home and waited for much-needed financial relief from the state, but that was far from what she would get.
A few months later, as the process was near completion, Lydia got a call from the prosecutor’s office. “He called me, and I said, ‘Well, can’t you give me the results over the phone?’ He goes, ‘You really need to come up to the office.’ So that’s when I went up to the office. I went into the back room, and it was just him and a lady.
They sat there and just stared at me.” Now, finally, she got an answer, and it was exactly the answer she expected. “He goes, ‘Well, he’s 99% the father.'” 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 said, “There is absolutely no way that you’re the mother.” At first, she 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. “They were serious. I could just see the seriousness in their faces. I mean, they’re just staring me down.” 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’re using them to commit welfare fraud?
And there it was, the explanation for everything that was happening to her. They thought she’d just been caught committing fraud, and they were relentless. They just kept on drilling me. Lydia remembers vividly. 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 that there was a one-in-a-billion chance that Lydia was the birth mother of both of the children. Her pattern had zero matches for either of her children. She demanded a retest. There was no Lam error.
The family was tested three separate times, and each time the tests came back, it clearly showed that Lydia was not the boy’s mother, and Jamie was the father of both. In complete hysterics, Lydia called the only person she could – her mother. “Lydia called me up, and she was hysterically crying when she said that she got the test back, and it said that she wasn’t the mother. I just started laughing. I couldn’t understand why she was crying, and I said, ‘That’s so stupid.
They’ve got to do it again.’ And she said, ‘Mom, they’ve done it three times, and it’s not working.'” The future of Lydia’s family would not have gone further than this. She would have been imprisoned if not for one woman half a thousand miles away named Karen Keegan. Karen discovered an extremely rare genetic disorder when she was diagnosed with an illness that required her to receive a new kidney.
Obviously, the first people that were tested were three children already grown up and her biological sons. None of her sons matched her DNA. 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 for numerous reasons. “From my point of view, it had an awful lot to do with the way the justice system is moving in our country and the fact that DNA is becoming such an important part of the legal aspects.
Despite her 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 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.
And it was clearly stated that this is a very rare event, and to have someone look externally normal and able to have children made it a very rare consideration. And it was even lower likelihood that they picked up on it and decided to embark on additional testing to establish whether or not Karen was a chimera. Could Karen Keegan really be a chimera? If she had a second set of DNA, it could explain everything. Inside the body of chimeras, there are not one but two completely different genetic identities created from separate sets of DNA – literally two people in one body.
It sounded impossible, and most of the studied cases reported physical abnormalities such as completely different skin pigmentations and very unusual straight lines. Caring didn’t have any, and neither did Lydia. Lydia was facing the full brunt of the law, being summoned to court to prove a relation to her two young children. When she found 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’s no way to win your case. It was her versus 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. Jamie was standing beside the mother of his children the entire time, also completely baffled. “I knew they’d be taken away because they said that they were already setting up Guardian parents to do just that. I just didn’t understand.
It’s not like the kids were in danger, and you know that she’s a good mom. I just felt like that we’re just one old scam.” The judge was torn. On one hand, the DNA evidence didn’t lie. He had no choice but to decide 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 third 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 me right then and there. He said, “We’ll go from there.
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 Alfie. Baby blood was immediately taken from them both, and she now waited in agony for the two weeks to pass to get the results. “I’ll always remember day by day what I went through those two years. It will never leave me.
It’s like a nightmare. After giving birth, you bring your newborn home. You’re just happy. I went home still scared because it was still going on. Still scared that they can come any minute and take my kids.
And Jamie had fears that he shared too. “I wonder what the courts would do if he was hers. Then the courts would assume we were lying about the whole thing, so it was kind of like, ‘Okay, let’s hope these tests come back negative. That was our only hope.'”