In 2006, Lydia was unemployed, struggling to support her two children. She was also pregnant with her third. She decided to apply for public assistance from the state of Washington. For her to get government assistance, her children would need a DNA test to prove that Lydia’s ex, Jamie Townsend, was really their father.
A Phone Call
Lydia knew her children’s heritage, so she wasn’t worried about the DNA test. When the Department of Social Services called her and asked her to come in for a meeting, she was sure that she was being called in for a standard appointment. When she spoke with the social worker, she realized that there was nothing routine about what was going on.
Lydia says that when she arrived at the office, she sat down and closed the door. Next, they started drilling her. They wanted to know who she really was. She didn’t know what to say, and she didn’t understand why she was being treated like a criminal. They told her that the DNA test proved that Jamie was the father of her children, but her link to her children was in question. The police weren’t sure if Lydia was trying to commit welfare fraud, or if something more sinister had occurred. Lydia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She knew for a fact that she carried each of her children, and she remembered every second of their delivery. She couldn’t understand why social services was saying that she had no link to her children. She tried to explain this to the social worker, but all they told her was that DNA is 100 percent foolproof.
Lydia was unable to get any type of public assistance for her children because of the DNA test. She was also told that she was at risk of having her children removed from her care. The social worker told her that they had the right to take her children at any time. Lydia was angry, confused, and worried. She wanted to prove that her children were actually hers, so she went home to find their birth certificates and photographic evidence of each of her pregnancies.
When Lydia told her parents about the DNA test, they thought that it was a prank at first. When Lydia assured them that she wasn’t joking around, they were in shock. Her mother, Carol, says that she was in the delivery room during the birth of both of her children. She says that she saw her grandchildren come out, which is proof that Lydia gave birth. Her father, Rod, was confused. His daughter wasn’t a liar, and he knew that those babies were hers. The family had no choice but to fight the DNA results in court.
One person who could stand up in court for Lydia was her obstetrician, Dr. Leonard Dreisbach. He was more than willing to tell the courts that he delivered all three of Lydia’s children, and they were hers. Like everyone else, the doctor was confused about the DNA test results. Unfortunately, the court disregarded the doctor’s statement, because again, they said that DNA doesn’t lie. A second DNA test was ordered at another lab, and Lydia was shocked when the results came back the same as the first test.
Hiring a Lawyer
Lydia hired a lawyer named Alan Tindell. Before he agreed to represent her, he asked her the hard questions. He wanted to know if they were her sister’s kids or her brother’s kids. He even asked if she abducted the children. Lydia assured him that she was telling the truth, and she was their mother. Lydia was so scared that her children would be taken from her that she considered going into hiding.
When Lydia received a summons, she found out that the state was ready to hear her case. She was terrified. She didn’t want her children to be taken away. When they would ask why she had to go to court, Lydia didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what was going to happen to her family, but finally, she got some good news.
A breakthrough in the case occurred when it was discovered that a woman from Boston, Massachusetts, named Karen Keegan, was going through something similar. In 1998, Karen needed a new kidney. To find a donor, her family gave blood samples to see if they were a match. It was then that something strange happened. The doctors discovered that none of her children shared her DNA. According to Karen’s doctors, children have half of their mother’s DNA and half of their father’s. Karen’s children had none of her DNA, which left her doctors confused. Like Lydia, Karen went through issues because of the DNA test.
After Karen told the doctors that she had a nodule that was recently removed, they tested the tissue, and it matched her children’s DNA. The doctors realized that she had a rare condition called chimerism. It is characterized by an organism with more than one set of genetic codes. It is caused when two fertilized eggs join in the womb but transform into one single fetus. This means that the individual would have two sets of genetic blueprints.
This test was enough to clear Karen of any wrongdoing, but Lydia was still fighting. When she gave birth to her third child, she had to do so in front of a court official. That official was also in charge of delivering the DNA test to the lab when the baby was born. The test showed that the baby had none of Lydia’s DNA. Even though there was proof that Lydia gave birth, the court claimed that she might have been a surrogate. Finally, Lydia’s lawyer heard about Karen’s case and presented it to the court. They believed that Lydia was a chimera, and finally, the case was dropped, and she was recognized as her children’s mother. When this mom of three took a DNA test, the unsettling results made her stomach drop. Fortunately, after months of worrying, the mystery was solved, and her nightmare was over.