The life of Lydia Fairchild has not been a simple one. She was raised in poverty and had to overcome many obstacles. When she and the children’s father, Jamie Townsend, divorced, she was expecting her third child. Despite these challenges, Lydia was committed to supporting her family and giving them a better life.
Her life, however, changed drastically when she was charged with fraud in the state of Washington in 2002 after applying for government assistance there. The cause? Her own children were not biologically related to her.
The Legal Battle of Lydia Fairchild
The legal system had never seen anything like Lydia Fairchild’s case. When Fairchild requested child support enforcement in 2002, it was customary to provide DNA proof to establish the children’s paternity.
However, the outcomes seemed to rule out the possibility that Fairchild was the children’s biological mother while also confirming that Townsend was the children’s biological father. When she discovered she wasn’t related to her own kids biologically, she was astounded.
Fairchild was accused of defrauding the government by making false claims for children who weren’t hers or by taking part in a surrogacy scam. Her prior birth records were also called into question as a result.
Lydia was inconsolable. How was it possible that she wasn’t their mother? She had borne them, raised them, and carried them in her womb.
Lydia must have used someone else’s kids to apply for public assistance, the state claimed. Lydia, however, knew the truth. She would fight to keep them because she was their mother.
When Lydia’s case went to trial, she had a difficult fight on her hands. She was not biologically related to her children, according to DNA evidence provided to the state. Lydia, however, resisted giving up. She was determined to demonstrate that she was the mother of her children because she knew in her heart that she was.
Because they believed Fairchild was not their biological mother, the prosecutors demanded that her two children be taken away. The judge ordered that a witness be present during the delivery, that blood samples be taken immediately from both Fairchild and the newborn, and that the witness be prepared to testify in court. She was about to give birth to her third child. The results of the DNA tests two weeks later seemed to indicate that Fairchild was not the third child’s biological mother either.
The Science Behind Lydia Fairchild’s Unusual Genetic Condition
Science eventually found the solution to Lydia’s case. She was found to have chimerism, an incredibly rare genetic condition.
When two fertilized eggs combine in the womb, a single person with two distinct DNA sets is created. This phenomenon is known as chimerism. In the case of Lydia, her children shared DNA with both their biological father and her twin sister, who had fused with Lydia while she was still a fetus.
Chimerism is so uncommon that few people had heard of it prior to Lydia’s case. Her case, however, raised awareness of this unusual condition and sparked new research into the science of chimerism.
Alan Tindell, Fairchild’s defense attorney, made a breakthrough when he discovered the case of Karen Keegan, a chimeric woman from Boston, and suggested that Fairchild might have chimerism as well. Tindell published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about Keegan’s case.
DNA samples were collected from members of Fairchild’s extended family, and it was discovered that the DNA of her children matched that of her mother, in a way that was consistent with a grandmother’s DNA.