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One woman grew up the sole blonde in a family of redheads and brunettes, the other a redhead in a sea of blondes with blue eyes.
In early spring, Denice Juneski, the blonde, and Linda Jourdeans, who has red hair, discovered that they were switched at birth in St. Paul, Minnesota, 72 years ago. The discovery was made after Juneski investigated results from a 23andMe DNA test, which revealed that her genealogy did not match that of her parents or siblings, according to a report by NBC affiliate KARE-TV in Minneapolis.
Around the same time, a woman in nearby Hammond, Wis., noticed Juneski on her own DNA test results. The woman was Jourdeans’ niece. Eventually Jourdeans learned about it, and she also took the test.
“Yes, we got switched,” Juneski told KARE.
The pair were born 31 minutes apart in the early morning hours of Dec. 19, 1945, at St. Paul’s Bethesda Hospital. Jourdeans says nobody’s sure how the two were switched. She surmises that the prenatal nurses on duty that day are probably no longer around.
“We’ll never know,” she told KARE.
Both women say they stood out as oddballs in their families. Juneski says she was the only member of her clan who wasn’t an avid athlete. The father she knew played professional baseball for an indie-league team, the St. Paul Saints; the sister she grew up with is in the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame.
“Yeah, sometimes I had that sense — that I didn’t quite fit in with them,” Juneski says.
Meanwhile, Jourdeans says she was really the only athletic member of her own family, having played competitive softball well into her 50s.
Jourdeans says that when she was 17 she lost the mother she knew, Rochelle Nielsen, to cancer.
Now she has a new mom, 99-year-old Marianne Mayer, who raised Juneski. And she has a new friend, Juneski, whom she’s visited multiple times since the April DNA discovery. “Unbelievable,” Jourdeans says.
Juneski says she’s glad she found out about the switch, even if its exact timing and mechanics remain a mystery. “I consider it a gift,” she says.