Two Oklahoma Women Make Shocking DNA Discovery: 'We Were Switched at Birth'

"I just kept thinking, 'This can't be real. There must be some mistake,'" says Tina Ennis

One afternoon in the summer of 2019, Tina Ennis realized her life would never be the same again as she sat in a diner near her home in Hobart, Oklahoma, with a woman she'd never met before named Jill Lopez.

"She looked just like my momma," Tina, 57, tells PEOPLE during an interview in this week's issue. "It was surreal."

For Tina — whose world was first upended earlier that summer when she and her daughter Taylor signed up for an account with — that moment marked the beginning of the unraveling of everything she thought she knew about her past.

Weeks after sending in a vial of her saliva to the genealogy company, the DNA results she received back showed no genetic link between herself and the woman she believed was her mother, Kathryn Jones. Even more confusing to Tina were the numerous references to the Brister family — people she'd never heard of but were listed as relatives.

In her search for answers, Taylor went to work combing through online obituaries, Facebook profiles and various websites. She eventually located a woman named Jill Brister Lopez, who was born on the same day in the same Duncan, Oklahoma hospital as Tina and bore a striking resemblance to Kathryn.

Taylor began to suspect that some sort of mix-up had occurred at the hospital shortly after their births that resulted in the two infants going home with — and eventually being raised by — the wrong set of parents.

Tina Ennis (left) and Jill Lopez, who were accidentally switched at birth, pose for a portrait
Tina Ennis and Jill Lopez. Nick Oxford

"I just kept thinking, 'This can't be real. There must be some mistake,'" Tina recalls of listening to Taylor's theory.

But days later, she reached out to Jill on Facebook, explaining everything she'd learned. Shortly after receiving the news, Jill telephoned her sister.

For more on Tina Ennis and Jill Lopez's shocking discovery, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

"These people think we were switched at birth," she informed her sibling, who replied, "Somebody's trying to scare you."

But Jill, who lived in Duncan, Oklahoma, wasn't scared. She was intrigued. And she not only agreed to take an DNA test of her own, but also accepted Tina's invitation to meet face-to-face at a diner.

Tina Ennis (left) and Jill Lopez (right), who were switched birth, walk with Jill’s bio mom Kathryn Jones in Duncan, OK on March 12, 2022
“I work hard to not think about it every day,” says Kathryn (middle, with, from left, biological daughter Jill and Tina, the daughter she raised). Nick Oxford

The two spent hours discussing their lives over plates of appetizers. "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," says Tina, who was stunned when Jill admitted that her favorite color was purple, also Kathryn's.

But the clincher came near the end of their meeting as Jill was preparing to leave. "What I'll never forget is when she got her lipstick out," says Tina, "and put it on exactly the way my mom does. That's when I knew. I didn't need DNA after that."

Two weeks later, Jill received the results of her DNA test that revealed she was Kathryn's daughter. "After getting the results," says Jill, "I drove straight home from my office and my husband asked, 'What's wrong?' I told him, 'It's true. It's true. I don't even know who I am anymore.'"

Adds Tina: "All I could do is cry." She was equally stunned to learn that her own biological parents — the couple who had raised Jill — had both died years earlier.

Tina and Jill along with Kathryn have hired medical malpractice lawyer Michael Barkett to investigate. And in July 2020, they sued Duncan Regional Hospital (DRH) — the medical facility that Barkett claims has liability for the long-ago closed hospital where Tina and Jill were born — for recklessness and negligent infliction of emotional distress. They allege that hospital staff there mistakenly handed the baby girls to the wrong parents more than five decades ago.

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A spokeswoman for the hospital declined to address whether or not Tina and Jill had been switched at birth. And on April 1, a judge granted DRH's motion to dismiss the case based on the argument it is not the legal successor entity to Duncan Physicians and Surgeons Hospital, where Kathryn Jones and Joyce Brister (since deceased) gave birth.

Barkett is appealing to the Oklahoma Supreme Court and "we are confident we will prevail," he says. "I don't know if we're ever going to be able to find out exactly where the mistake occurred and how they were switched in the hospital."

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