Switched at Birth: Women Learn the Truth 56 Years Later

When Oregon nurses handed Marjorie Angell her newborn daughter in the hospital in 1953, she insisted they had given her the wrong child. Her concerns were brushed off, but in an unlikely story that was 56 years in the making, her mother's intuition foreshadowed what was to come.

It was true. Her daughter had been switched at birth when she and the other baby were being bathed, but Marjorie Angell would never learn the truth because she died before it was revealed.

VIDEO: Hospital mistake led two women to grow up in the wrong families.

"It's sad," DeeAnn Angell Schafer told "Good Morning America." "Just to think I missed out on knowing my own parents."

Even though Kay Rene Reed Qualls said she enjoyed a wonderful life, she still feels guilty about the memories that should belong to DeeAnn and her family.

"I look at them and I feel like I cheated somebody," she said.

The story of two women who grew up in the wrong families just came to light last month to the surprise of everyone and no one.

A Secret Switch?

On May 3, 1953, DeeAnn Angell of Fossil, Ore., and Kay Rene Reed of Condon, Ore., were born at Pioneer Memorial Hospital in the eastern Oregon town of Heppner. They grew up, got married, and had children and grandchildren of their own.

The women's lives were uneventful until last summer, when Kay Rene's brother, Bobby Reed, received a call from an 86-year-old woman who claimed to hold an astonishing secret.

He met the woman in her nursing home. She said she had known the Reeds' mother and had lived next door to the Angell family in Fossil. Her shocking claim was that Kay Rene wasn't really a Reed at all; she was an Angell.

The elderly woman said Kay Rene and DeeAnn were switched at birth.

To bolster her story, she showed Bobby Reed an old photo of DeeAnn's sister. Reed saw an instant and undeniable resemblance to the woman raised as his sister.

Switched at Birth: Uncovering the Truth

If what the elderly woman said was correct, then DeeAnn really was Reed's sister and not Kay Rene's. The secret stunned Reed, who was unsure what to do with the potential bombshell. He always had known and loved Kay Rene as his sister.

Though Kay Rene was a brunette in a sea of blonds, no one ever thought to question her paternity.

Reed didn't want anything to change, nor did he want to hurt anyone. He decided to tell his two oldest sisters, and one of them broke the news to Kay Rene.

With both the Reed parents and the Angell parents dead, the children had to come together to uncover the truth about the alleged mix-up.

The families learned rumors of babies being switched at birth had been around for decades. In fact, Kay Rene first learned of such gossip in 1995 when her sister Carol told her during their dying father's last camping trip.

After his death, Kay Rene's mother approached her about the subject. She acknowledged that she heard another new mother in the same hospital, where she had given birth, question if her baby was her own. But after looking into Kay Rene's big brown eyes, she determined this was her baby and she wouldn't bring the issue up anymore.

Growing Up With Questions

Growing up, Kay Rene had questioned whether she truly was a Reed. She had her suspicions. She knew she didn't look like anyone else in her family.

Eventually, Kay Rene said, the rumors started in her family that maybe she wasn't really related to them.

"I think all the older sisters knew this," she said.

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