In 1997, Celeste Nurse gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and named her Zephany.
But three days later, she was literally stolen out of her sleeping mother’s arms.
Celeste and her husband Morne Nurse were shocked when they found the baby missing, and they immediately called for a search for their kidnapped daughter. Apparently an unidentified woman had come into the hospital and stolen the child.
The years went on, but Zephany was not found. The Nurses went on to have three more children, and they were determined to keep Zephany in their lives.
The Nurse family celebrated the girl’s birthday together every year.
“I’ll never, ever give up hope. I can feel it in my gut–my daughter is out there and she is going to come home,” Morne said in a 2010 interview.
Little did they know, Zephany was just a couple of miles from their home. But it wasn’t until a strange twist of fate that they met.
When the Nurses’ daughter Cassidy was about to start secondary school, they were all prepared to send her to one school, but for some reason made a last minute decision to go with another school. It was there that Cassidy unknowingly met her sister Zephany.
Although the two girls were not the same age or in the same grade, they had an instant connection. They played sports together and hung out together, and treated each other like sisters.
Cassidy came home one day not long after school started and told her father, “Daddy, there’s a girl at school who resembles me completely. I want to get to know this girl.”
“Why do I feel like this towards this girl?” the daughter wondered.
Morne’s interest was piqued—he had been working on his own investigation over the years, and had the nagging need to meet this girl. He told Cassidy as much.
So not long after, he went to pick up Cassidy from school at the nearby McDonalds, where the girls were eating burgers, and the resemblance was uncanny.
“I looked at the girl and said, ‘wow, you look just like us,'” Morne said. Zephany laughed, and agreed. She also felt confused. “I don’t know what I’m feeling,” he remembers her saying.
Morne asked her a few more questions, like her birthday, and where she grew up. After he and Cassidy went home, he turned to social media to further his investigation.
“All this evidence shows this is my girl,” he remembers thinking. So he sent a picture to Celeste.
When Celeste saw the photo, she felt something inside her just burst.
“I got that feeling—I just grabbed at my heart and said, ‘This is my daughter! This is my daughter!'” Celeste said.
They got the police involved, and after a tense 6 weeks, DNA results confirmed that Zephany was indeed the baby girl they had stolen from them 17 years ago.
“The phone call came,” Celeste remembers. The police told her, “Celeste, you’re a mother again.”
“I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t talk at all! I burst into tears,” Celeste said.
Zephany was only living a few miles away, and soon, the family was reunited.
“When she came to me, I couldn’t stop crying,” Celeste said. “I said, ‘I finally found you. For 17 years, I never stopped looking for you. I finally found you.'”
The woman who had taken Zephany was still raising her, and was charged with kidnapping. The nurses from the hospital recognized her, though she gave a different story in court of being handed the baby at a train station. After coming to terms with the situation, the Nurses said they forgave her and thanked her for taking care of their daughter.
“[Zephany] is beautiful inside out,” Celeste said.
Watch the video below: