For one woman, pregnancy was not enough to prove motherhood.
After taking a DNA test, Lydia Fairchild of Washington State was shocked to find that she was not the mother of her own children — the same children that she remembered conceiving, carrying and giving birth to. What had gone wrong?
As a struggling single mother of two with a third child on the way, Fairchild, then 26 years old, decided to apply for government assistance. In order to qualify, Fairchild was required to undergo DNA testing to prove that she was the mother of children for whom she was claiming. When the test results came back, her world was shattered by an incredible revelation – she was not the mother of her two children.
Now facing criminal charges for fraud, Fairchild was ordered to have a court representative be present at the birth of her third child for an immediate DNA test, which revealed the same results.
Further DNA analysis showed that Fairchild was more like an aunt to her children than a mother, but Fairchild didn’t have a sister. Then, the discovery of a similar case in Boston brought to light another possibility.
It turned out that Fairchild had a rare genetic condition known as chimera — essentially, she had a twin in her own body. Graham Noble of guardianlv.com has more on the condition:
Those rare individuals, dubbed “Chimeras”, had started out as twins; in the early stage of pregnancy, one of the twins had merged with – been absorbed by, one could almost say – the other twin. The cells of the consumed twin, however, did not disappear and remained alive in one concentrated area of their sibling’s body. In essence, a human chimera is one person made up of two separate sets f genetic material; they are, in fact, their own twins.
Fortunately, once Fairchild's condition was discovered, all charges were dropped and her case was dismissed.