The mother of rare biracial twins born in Illinois said she never expected her daughters’ births would be as significant as they have become.
Whitney Meyer, 25, gave birth to 9-month-old twins Kalani and Jarani last April. But right away, she noticed an unexpected difference between the two.
Kalani was born with a lighter complexion and blue eyes while her fraternal twin sister Jarani has darker complexion and brown eyes.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” Meyer said. “[Kalani] came out white as can be. She was like really white to the point where I asked the doctor if she was albino.”
Meyer is Caucasian and the father of the twins, her boyfriend Tomas Dean, is African-American.
The family was quite surprised after the girls’ births, noting that they were told by their doctors twins born with different skin tones is a rarity.
Meyer said she thought Kalani’s skin tone might eventually change after her birth, as she had heard of that happening before.
“She has never got her color, she got even whiter,” Meyer said.
Dr. Nancy Segal, psychology professor and director for the Twin Studies Center at California State University, said because the twins are fraternal, each baby inherited different genes from each parent. She noted that skin tone, however, can be influenced by “a number of genetic factors in combination with environmental influences and interactions among different genes.”
She said it can be hard to determine how often cases like this happen as some could go unreported.
Still, doctors in Europe say mixed race couples expecting twins have about a 1 in 500 chance of the babies being born with different skin tones, BBC reports.
Despite their unique situation, the family said they don’t “see color.”
“[The twins’ story is] something that is different and it’s something that is in the spotlight right now and it’s for good,” said Dean. “It could really put in perspective that mysterious things, stuff can happen that we don’t expect to happen and it’s just life. We as people should just look at each other equal.”
They added that with the current political culture, the positive feedback their story has received has left them inspired.
“I don’t know if people look at them and realize well you can’t love one and not the other,” Meyer said. “Everyone is equal and love is love.”