Two Minnesota women have made the shocking discovery at the age of 72 they were switched at birth.
Denice Juneski and Linda Jourdeans were born at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota back in 1945.
Both babies were little Christmas miracles, born 31 minutes apart on Dec. 19. Their parents undoubtedly beamed with pride.
It would take 72 years before anyone realized they’d been switched at birth. During which both women stood out from their families for various reasons, such as hair color, eye color, and natural talents.
Neither woman would have ever realized if Juneski had not recently taken a DNA test.
The women now face many questions about how different their lives would have been had they stayed with their biological parents. Their names, early interests, and decisions until reaching adulthood could have been very different.
The switched babies raises a bigger issue as to whether parents are really taking home their biological newborn when they leave hospital.
After receiving her results, Juneski was so surprised by what she saw on the report that she thought it was a mistake. So, she tested herself again but the result stayed the same.
“I didn’t match anybody,” Juneski told KARE11. “Either 23andMe [a genealogy website] made a mistake or I was switched at birth.”
After Juneski came to terms with the idea that she had grown up in a different family, she inevitably started to wonder who had grown up in hers. The answer came quickly.
On Jourdean side, a niece of hers noticed the name “Juneski” on her DNA report. Connecting the dots, the niece figured Jourdeans must had been switched at birth and informed her aunt of the news.
Jourdeans, who lives in Wisconsin, did not waste any time in trying to investigate the matter.
“I did my DNA right away because I’ve got to see this on paper,” Jourdeans told KARE 11.
The results proved what the two women had already suspected—they had walked in someone else’s shoes for the last 72 years.
For 72 years Denice Juneski & Linda Jourdeans have unknowingly lived each other’s life. A random DNA test recently…
After learning the shocking revelation, Juneski and Jourdeans embraced the truth with an open mind rather than being angry about something completely out of their control, and with no real solution.
“I think at my age I didn’t want more anger and conflict,” Juneski said.
“It wasn’t going to help, it just wasn’t going to help,” Jourdeans agreed.
In fact, the revelation answered many questions that had baffled both families.
Jourdeans was athletic and a redhead, unlike her family of blondes who also enjoyed books more than sports.
“You’d hear about, ‘Linda was the milkman’s daughter,’ you know,” said Karen Danniger, one of six Nielsen siblings with whom Jourdeans grew up with.
Similarly Juneski found herself the only blond among redheads and brown-haired family members.
“We always joked around, talking about the mailman and the milkman,” said Yogi Mayer, the brother who Juneski grew up with.
Knowing the reason behind the “mailman” and the “milkman”, Juneski and Jourdeans have taken the development in stride. The two have met several times since learning the news in April, becoming friends.
In July, Juneski and Jourdeans had a special family reunion, where the two met with their biological families.
Both families chose to embrace the news positively. Instead of feeling bitter about the moments they missed with Juneski or Jourdeans, they saw it as an opportunity to expand their family tree.
“We haven’t lost anybody, we’ve gained one. There’s eight of us now,” said Al Nielsen, Denice’s biological brother.
“We’ve got to make up for 72 years, so we’ve got to get together a lot,” said Cindy Gardner, Denice’s biological sister.
Joneski was no longer grieving the death of her only sister to cancer, she had now gained three new sisters. Jourdeans, on the other hand, gained her biological mother in her 70s after losing hers when she was just 17.
“It is a whole new beginning in a way for them,” Yogi told KARE11.
Jourdeans has since met her birth mother Marianne Mayer, 99, who is struggling with her memory. She regularly visits. The two women retell the story whenever they visit her, and their mother is always happy to hear she now has more grand children.
Neither Juneski or Jourdeans appeared interested in understanding how or why the switch took place. The responsible hospital workers on duty have most likely passed away already, and would not remember much about the switch even if they were still alive to tell their stories.
“We’ll never know,” Jourdeans said.