For most of us, two babies being switched at birth is something only seen in movies and TV. However, a pair of 72-year old women, Denice Juneski and Linda Jourdeans, recently discovered they had been switched at birth and spent their entire lives with the wrong family.
It all started when Denice submitted a DNA sample on 23andMe.com. When she got the results, she didn’t recognize the names of any of her relatives. She took another test but got the same results, indicating that something was off.
“Either 23andMe made a mistake or I was switched at birth,” Denice concluded.
Meanwhile, Denice’s name was found on a 23andMe list submitted by Linda’s niece. After that, Linda’s husband and daughter started to suspect she may have been switched at birth.
After submitting her own DNA test, Linda had no doubt that the family she grew up with was not her biological family. After connecting with Denice, who lived 40 miles away, the two were able to hash out the details.
Both Denice and Linda were born early on the morning of December 19, 1945, in St. Paul, Minnesota, just 31 minutes apart. Now 72 years later, they believe anyone working at the hospital that day has passed away, leaving them with no way of knowing how the two babies had been switched.
However, for both women, it did explain a lot. Linda, for instance, grew up with red hair in a
family full of blonde siblings. Denice, meanwhile, grew up blond in a family full of dark-haired siblings and cousins.
Denice also grew up as a misfit in a family of great athletes. Linda, fittingly, played softball past the age of 50 but was the only person in her family growing up with any kind of athletic talent.
“Sometimes I had that sense that I didn’t quite fit in,” says Denice. “I was really supposed to be another person.”
Both women now visit Marianne Mayer, 99, who gave birth to Linda but raised Denice. Marianne is in a memory care center but seems to understand the story. Rochelle Nielsen, who raised Linda after giving birth to Denice, passed away at age 42 when Linda was just 17.
Obviously, being switched at birth is not the ideal way to go through life, but both women are happy to know the truth even if it’s a little confusing. The two families are planning a reunion later this month so everyone can get to know one another.
“It’s a crazy thing,” says Denice. “People just automatically assume they got the right family.”