When a woman took a DNA test one day, the results shocked her to the core. She couldn't understand whether the test results were erroneous or pointed to a mysterious secret, buried in time and probably lost to the ages.
We're all bonded by blood ties and familial connections that automatically become a part of us even before we're born. As we grow up, we learn to feel comfortable in our skins and grow accustomed to our surroundings.
But what if everything we knew about ourselves turned out to be far from the truth? How do you think someone might feel after learning that they followed in someone else's footsteps and grew up somewhere they didn't belong?
[From left to right] Denice Juneski and Linda Jourdeans. | Source: youtube.com/KARE 11
SHOCKED AND CONFUSED
Denice Juneski from Eagan, Minnesota, was a bit of an ancestry buff. One day, out of sheer curiosity, she decided to take a DNA test from 23andMe, hoping to discover more details about her relatives.
After a few weeks, the DNA test results arrived, but they were contrary to Juneski's expectations. She didn't match anybody from her parents or siblings, but at the same time, she matched several people whose names she didn't recognize.
The Minnesota resident was astounded, so she retook the DNA test. However, nothing changed, and she got the same results. She sat for some time, trying to make sense of the results lying in front of her.
Denice Juneski. | Source: YouTube.com/KARE 11
THE NAGGING QUESTIONS
Eventually, a perplexed Juneski concluded two probable explanations — either 23andMe had made an error, or she was swapped at birth. But if she had grown in someone else's family, who grew up in her place?
In the meantime, check out this other story where two babies swapped at birth due to a hospital mix-up were brought up unusually after the error was discovered.
Around the same time in Hammond, Wisconsin, a woman noticed Juneski on her own DNA test report and shared the news with her family, including her aunt, Linda Jourdeans.
Linda Jourdeans. | Source: YouTube.com/KARE 11
A 72-YEAR-OLD SECRET
Her husband and daughter suggested she was switched at birth, so Jourdeans decided to take a DNA test. When she received the results, all doubts were ruled out. A 72-year-old secret was uncovered, involving two complete strangers.
On December 19, 1945, two baby girls were born at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul in the early morning hours. Denice Mary Mayer was born at 2:17 a.m., and Linda Jean Nielsen was born 31 minutes later.
But how the two babies were swapped at birth was a mystery that might never be unraveled. "We'll never know, and I'm sure the nurses are dead that probably took care of us," said Jourdeans after learning the shocking news in early spring 2018.
[From left to right] Marianne Mayer, Denice Juneski, and Linda Jourdeans. | Source: YouTube.com/KARE 11
FEELING OUT OF STEP
For seven decades, the two women unknowingly lived each other's lives. However, the family pictures offered some supportive evidence backing up the DNA results.
Jourdeans, the redhead, grew up in a family of blondes, while Juneski, the blonde, was raised amongst redheads and brunettes. Juneski sometimes felt out of step for lacking stamina and coordination, despite growing up in a family of athletes.
Her father played baseball for years, and her brother was a ballplayer. Even her sister was in the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame, but Juneski had no athletic streak. "Sometimes I had that sense that I didn't quite fit in," expressed Juneski.
TO NEW BEGINNINGS
On the other hand, Jourdeans also struggled to fit into her family, being the only athlete. She was a softball player up until her 50s. After learning about each other's existence in April 2018, Juneski and Jourdeans met many times.
Jourdeans shared she was 17 when she lost her mother, Rochelle Nielsen, to cancer. But luckily, she now had a new mother, Marianne Mayer, 99, who raised Juneski. Jourdeans and Juneski often visited Mayer in memorial care, who was delighted to have them around.
Despite the shocking, life-altering revelation, the two women, both 72 at the time, didn't harbor any bitter feelings. Juneski said she was glad she found out about the swap and considered it a gift, while Jourdeans was happy to have found a new friend.
What an incredibly heartwarming story of two women surviving the odds and forging a friendship instead of hatred. More power to you, Juneski and Jourdeans. If this story warmed your heart, please share it with your loved ones.
In the meantime, check out this other story where two babies swapped at birth due to a hospital mix-up were brought up unusually after the error was discovered. Click here to read the whole story.