For a mom-to-be, those nine months of waiting to meet her baby can feel like a lifetime. And when that little one finally arrives, it should be a moment full of joy and love. Genevieve Purinton never got to feel that magic, though. She grieved what could have been for almost 70 years. Then she finally discovered the truth — and realized the lie she’d been fed all those decades ago.
Her future looked bright
Back in 1949, Genevieve seemed to be on her way to a bright future. She was 18 years old, dating a man she loved, and was just about to finish up high school in her hometown of La Porte, Indiana. There was only one problem — and it was a big problem back then for a young, unmarried woman.
Still had hope
Yes, Genevieve found out that she was pregnant. It was never the best news for a high schooler to receive, but Genevieve still found a shred of comfort in the situation. She knew the father of her child was a good man, and the two of them would raise this baby together. That was what she hoped, anyway.
A bump in the road
Genevieve’s pregnancy advanced, and she eventually came to the decision that she needed to leave school once her belly started to show. It was a shame she wouldn’t graduate, but the mom-to-be thought it was for the best. Unfortunately, with the bump of her belly came a major bump in her plans. And it may have shattered all of Genevieve’s dreams of the future.
He showed his true colors
Her baby’s father revealed to Genevieve that he was actually married. He also planned to take her baby and raise it as his own — without her. And the expectant mom was horrified. At that moment, life may have looked grim. She was out of school, out of favor with her family, and now suddenly out of hope as her relationship came to an abrupt end.
Giving birth alone
Eventually, on May 12, 1949, Genevieve checked herself into St. Mary’s Mercy Hospital in Gary, Indiana. Soon, she would deliver her baby. And as she lay in the hospital alone, she thought of a teacher she had in high school, Margaret Ann, who was thriving despite having contracted polio. If Genevieve had a girl, she would name the child after her.
Signing on the dotted line
The hospital staff asked Genevieve to sign some papers. She was led to believe that they were a directive in the event that she passed away or could no longer care for the child. That made sense to her, so, of course, she signed. Shortly after that, Genevieve gave birth to a baby girl — and she naturally called her Margaret Ann.
Then, moments after delivering her daughter, Genevieve was confronted with the worst news any new mother could face: her baby had died. The world became black. What had hardly even begun was now over, and Genevieve was once again alone. She had no reason to doubt what the hospital workers were telling her, either. It didn’t cross her mind to ask to see her daughter’s birth certificate.
Didn’t realize the truth
Instead, Genevieve accepted the fact that she’d lost her child and focused on getting her life back together. And she didn’t realize that she actually wasn’t alone. Other women were also being tricked or forced to give up their newborn babies if they weren’t thought to be the “right kind” of mothers. Genevieve — alone, young, and out of wedlock — was just one of many deemed unsuitable.
The little girl’s fate
So, May 12, 1949, was the day Margaret Ann’s life began — not the day it ended. Those “directive papers” that Genevieve signed were actually ones consenting to have her daughter put up for adoption. And the day her bereaved mother walked out of the hospital was the day Margaret Ann was sent to an orphanage. Who knew what fate was waiting for the little girl?
At least Margaret wasn’t in the orphanage for long. She was soon adopted by a couple from southern California who renamed her Connie. And despite her tragic start, Connie seemed destined to grow up in a happy home in Santa Barbara. Although she had been separated from her birth mom, things looked good for the little girl.
Connie was always aware that her parents weren’t biologically related to her, but she loved hearing about how they came to welcome her into their family. In 2018 Connie told Inside Edition, “My favorite bedtime story was how my parents walked up and down the halls of the hospital looking at all the babies until they found me, and then they stopped. It was sweet.”
The dream turns sour
But this idyllic childhood wasn’t to last. Connie’s adoptive mother was diagnosed with cancer and soon passed away. It was a horrible blow. Following that trauma, her adoptive father re-married to a woman who mistreated little Connie. Even worse, her dad was eventually diagnosed with a chronic heart condition. Before she was a teenager, Connie lost both of her adoptive parents.
Life goes on
Finally, Connie started searching for her birth mom. But with only a name to go on, she never found any firm leads. She grew up to become a nurse, marry, and raise a daughter named Bonnie who eventually gave her two beautiful grandchildren. Yet while life was good, she never stopped thinking of her birth mother and if they would ever meet.
The DNA link
Then, for Christmas 2017, Bonnie gave her mom, now 69 years old, a DNA test kit. She got one for herself, too, as there was a whole side to Bonnie’s family that she didn’t know. In 2018 Connie’s daughter explained to Yahoo!, “I never met my own biological father, and growing up, it was just me and my mom... I remember mom trying to find her birth mother, and it was hard to see her go through that.”
Connie took her time
Yet while mom and daughter both longed to find out more about their family, neither of them took the DNA kits seriously. Connie was so lax about her test that it took her some time to even send it off for analysis. If she had known how the results would change her life, however, she may have completed the test sooner...
Finally, several weeks later, Connie got her results. She found out she had a living first cousin, and that woman reached out to introduce herself. Of course, Connie asked about Genevieve, and luckily she didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Her newly found cousin quickly replied, “Oh, that’s my aunt. And she’s still alive, living on her own.”
Too good to be true?
It was almost too good to be true. After all these years, Connie had finally tracked down her mother! Connie’s cousin promised to write a letter to Genevieve giving her Connie’s contact information. Then, on one fateful Sunday morning, Connie’s phone rang. She picked up, and a quivering voice said on the other end, “I think I’m your mother.”
Mom and daughter finally speak
Recalling the atmosphere of the call, Connie told NBC News, “You could’ve heard a pin drop… [My mom] wanted to remember if I knew my original name, Margaret Ann Mitch.” As it happened, she did. And the two stayed on the phone for hours that day. That was no surprise, as they had nearly 70 years to fill each other in on!
On her way to Florida
It wasn’t long after that initial phone call that Connie got on a plane and flew down to Florida to meet her mother for the first time. Genevieve was now 88 years old and living in an assisted living center. She told her daughter she would be using a walker, and that was the only detail Connie needed as she walked through the door.
Reunited, and it feels so good
Connie later told Inside Edition, “[There] was only one woman there with a walker… She turned around, and it was like looking in the mirror. I look just like her. We just walked over to one another, and both of us started crying.” Despite their cruel separation, Connie and Genevieve were just happy to be together again after so much time apart.
Still, mom and daughter may have wondered what could have been. Genevieve hadn’t been there to see her girl’s first steps or to take her to her first day at school. She hadn’t watched through happy tears as Connie had gotten married. That one lie from the hospital had changed all that. And one lie had also changed the life of Tina Ennis.
Tina spoke fondly of her childhood and her relatives to Today. “My mom’s grandparents were terrific. We had horses with them. And [her grandpa] took us to rodeos and playdays. It was very Oklahoma,” she recalled in March 2022. Most importantly, though, as she explained, life had been “just normal.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing...
Yet at the same time, there were some bumps in the road. When Tina was a toddler, her mom Kathryn split from her father, leaving her without a dad. That wouldn’t last for long, as Kathryn soon found another partner who filled the void. From then on, Tina had always regarded that man as her father. He made a living painting properties, while Kathryn worked as a telephonist.
A huge shock was coming...
But the wheels were set in motion for a life-altering change in 2019. It all began when Taylor, one of Tina’s adult children, joined Ancestry.com. And her goal was simple. At that time, Tina had been eager to learn more about her family. Naturally, her dutiful daughter stepped in to help.
An innocent search
Specifically, Tina was looking for her grandpa, who had walked out of Kathryn’s life when she had been just a little girl. So, Taylor and her mom submitted DNA samples to Ancestry.com, hoping that would lead to a connection. But no one could’ve predicted what happened next. Instead of filling in a gap in the mom and daughter’s family history, the DNA results threw up some head-scratching questions.
The test results
The pair struggled to recognize anyone in their family tree. How bizarre! And the confusion didn’t end there. Upon closer inspection, one surname repeatedly appeared in the results: Brister. Understandably baffled, Tina reached out to Kathryn and wondered if she had any knowledge of the name. Her mom was equally puzzled, though. What on Earth was going on here?
Kathryn took a test...
Hoping to throw more light on the situation, Tina implored Kathryn to submit a DNA sample to Ancestry as well. She agreed, sending her own completed-at-home test kit back to the genealogy company. Maybe this would clear things up? Well, not quite. In fact, the information that emerged just muddied the waters further.
Kathryn’s results left Tina in a state of pure confusion. She and Taylor were nowhere to be found in the family tree. If that was correct, it meant the pair weren’t biologically related to the Jones clan. It didn’t make sense to anyone. Finally, using the Brister surname as a jumping-off point, Taylor started to do some digging on the internet.
A possible breakthrough?
Soon enough, Taylor stumbled across something very interesting. It appeared that she’d found a potential connection in the shape of another Oklahoma resident. Her name? Jill Brister Lopez. And not only did she and Tina share a birthday, but the pair had also been delivered at the same medical facility. It was too spooky to be a mere coincidence.
Spitting image of her grandma
That wasn’t all. When Taylor took a closer look at one of Jill’s photos, a startling realization washed over her. This woman was the spitting image of Kathryn. With that in mind, Tina’s kid pieced together her own theory on what had happened, believing it to be the only answer that made sense.
An unthinkable switch
Yes, Taylor was of the opinion that her mom had been inadvertently swapped with another baby following her delivery. And judging by the names on their family tree and Jill’s appearance, it seemed as though she might’ve found that child all grown up. Yet Tina had her doubts. You can hardly blame her, right?
It sounded crazy
Taylor couldn’t shake this nagging idea from her head. So she talked with her mom again and persuaded Tina to reach out to Jill on social media. But Tina was very worried about how it would all sound. As she later admitted to The Daily Beast, “If I were to get [that message], I’d think that person was crazy.”
Learning more about Jill
Like Tina, Jill had also grown up in Oklahoma — in her case, alongside some sisters under the care of John and Joyce Brister. Then, as she got older, she packed her bags for Lawton — one of the state’s smaller areas. She’s a mother of two kids and currently works in real estate.
There were some doubts
And, crucially, Jill didn’t believe that Tina was mad for suggesting that a switch might’ve happened back in 1964. At the same time, both her husband and one of her sisters weren’t so sure of that unlikely theory. “[She said], ‘Somebody’s trying to scare you,’” the mom of two recalled to People in April 2022.
Anyway, once they had made contact on social media, Jill told Tina that she’d take a DNA test through Ancestry. She wanted to take up the offer of a meeting as well. So, the pair got together at a local eatery and began to learn a little more about each other. Tina later recalled, “[Jill] looked just like my momma. It was surreal.”
“It was almost like an out-of-body experience, sitting across the table from someone that you just met who looks just like your mother,” Tina continued. “What I’ll never forget is when she got her lipstick out and put it on exactly the way my mom does. That’s when I knew. I didn’t need DNA after that.”
Even so, Jill took the test, and they all got an answer fairly quickly. And the results proved that she and Tina had indeed been switched at birth. Jill said to People, “After getting the results, I drove straight home from my office. My husband asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ I told him, ‘It’s true. It’s true. I don’t even know who I am anymore.’”
Sharing the news
Meanwhile, Tina said to Today, “All I could think about was how I was going to tell my mom. I just thought, ‘She’s not going to be able to handle it.’” She organized a get-together anyway and decided she was going to lay it all out. But the seismic nature of what she had to say left Kathryn in denial.
“Looked just like me”
To put it simply, Kathryn wasn’t having it. How could Tina not be her child? In the end, she was handed a photo of Jill — and that made all the difference. “[I thought], ‘Where was I when that was taken? I don’t remember those clothes.’ Because [Jill] actually looked just like me. And it devastated me,” Kathryn later told The Daily Beast.
Alongside that, Kathryn was scared that Tina would no longer be part of her life. “I felt like I was losing my daughter and my grandchildren too,” she admitted. But Tina made things pretty clear when she spoke to Today. “[Kathryn] was afraid that she was going to lose me, and she wasn’t going to. I wasn’t gonna leave her,” she revealed.
Feelings of jealousy
The big wrench for Tina related to her birth mom and dad. Sadly, both John and Joyce Brister had passed away a few years back, meaning she couldn’t reach out to them. Jill was able to do that with Kathryn, however, and it left her envious. “Jill got to be with my real parents,” Tina told The Daily Beast. “And now she gets to be with my parents I grew up with. I didn’t know what to think about it at first, but the more I think about it, it makes me really sad.”
Overall, the whole thing has been far from straightforward. Then again, Tina and Jill have shown a real willingness to work together in rebuilding their lives with Kathryn. To help celebrate the 2021 festive season, both their families gathered together at Kathryn’s home. And, luckily, the holiday was said to have been a success.
Final words from Tina
But you should keep these final words in mind. During her chat with The Daily Beast, Tina was honest when she revealed, “From the outside, we all probably look pretty good. But in my opinion, it hasn’t been something I would wish on anyone.” It’s hard to see a traditional happy ending here, then.