Their baby girl was born healthy and beautiful, everything her two parents could ask for. Unfortunately, the image of their happy family shattered once 3-day-old Zephany was stolen from the hospital. Celeste waited 17 years to hug her own daughter for the second time in her entire life.
The South African family was living every parents’ nightmare, completely helpless and utterly heartbroken. Celeste and Morne Nurse were left to ponder their daughter’s well-being, her looks, her personality, all the things they never had the opportunity to learn.
“It’s heartbreaking as a mom,” said Celeste. “You can’t stop thinking about her.”
Leaning on one another for support, the couple tried their best to cope with the devastating circumstances. As time went on, they eventually became parents of three other beautiful children. In memory of their lost baby, the family continue to celebrate Zephany’s birthday, each and every year.
17 years after the girl’s disappearance, Celeste received some shocking news. Cassidy Nurse returned from school, frantic to tell her mother she’d met a classmate that looked ‘just like her,’ nearly identical in fact. For some reason,
The day Cassidy came home with a photo she’d taken with her new friend changed everything. Looking at her daughter’s face for the second time in 17 years moved Celeste to tears. She felt a connection with the girl instantly.
“I got this feeling inside. I just grabbed my heart and said, ‘This is my daughter. This is my daughter!’” Celeste explained with tears in her eyes. “I couldn’t stop crying … I said, ‘Finally I found you. For 17 years I have been looking for you. I found you finally, you’re mine again,’” Celeste added.
Sure enough, the woman was right. After police confirmed a DNA test, they revealed the two families lived quite close to one another, only a couple miles away in fact.
The unnamed neighbor was arrested and convicted with kidnapping Zephany. When asked if she’ll ever confront the woman who took her three-day-old baby girl, Celeste uttered a shocking answer.
“When I see the woman that took her, I want to give her a hug,” said Celeste. “When I see her I want to say thank you, you’ve done a good job. Look at my daughter — she’s beautiful inside and out.”
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