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Mom Reunited with Daughter Stolen from Her 18 Years Ago

The Short of It

A woman has reunited with the baby who was stolen from her hospital room—18 years later!

The Lowdown

Celeste Nurse, of Cape Town, South Africa, had just given birth via cesarean section and was groggy from the morphine when a woman posing as a nurse stole her baby from beside her in the maternity ward.

"Your baby is crying," said the woman, who was dressed like a nurse. "Can I pick up the child?"

Celeste said OK, then slipped back into sleep. When the new mom awoke, her newborn daughter Zephany—which means "the Lord has hidden" in Hebrew—and the "nurse" were gone.

"We ran everywhere in the hospital," Celeste said. "The baby was nowhere to be found. Missing. Gone." The hospital called the police, but they didn't turn up any clues.

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That was in 1997. Eventually, Celeste and her husband Morne had three more kids, including a daughter named Cassidy. When Cassidy reached high school, everyone kept telling her about a senior who looked just like her. When Cassidy told her mom and dad about the similarity, her father arranged to meet the older girl.

"We went to McDonald's, and I started questioning her," Morne told the Daily Mail. "I asked what her date of birth was—her birthday was the date my daughter was abducted."

The girl also mentioned that she didn't look like her own parents, something she told Morne she had thought about "over and over." So after the meeting, Morne went on Facebook: "I scrutinized her account. I saw pictures of her, and she resembled my kids completely."

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Morne sent Celeste—who he is now divorced from—a photo of the girl. "I just—I got that feeling inside; I just grabbed my heart and said this is my daughter," Celeste told CBS.

DNA samples proved she was right—Zephany had finally been found. Turns out, the girl had grown up just a mile from her biological family, and Celeste was finally reunited with her daughter on Feb. 26, 2015.

"I burst out into tears when I saw her," Celeste told CBS. "I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stop crying. I said, 'Finally, I found you. For seventeen years I've been looking for you. I found you finally. You're mine again.'"

The Upshot

Meanwhile, the woman allegedly responsible—a 51-year-old seamstress—was arrested and charged with kidnapping and fraud for filing false paperwork regarding her daughter's birth and identity. Her trial started on Monday, and she has pleaded not guilty, painting herself as the victim of a shady middle-woman.

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True or not, Celeste says she's ready to forgive her. "When I see her, I want to say, 'thank you for what you've done,'" she said. "You've done a good job; look at my daughter; she's beautiful inside out."

I'm just gonna say it: Celeste is a way bigger woman than I am. There's no way I'd be so quick to forgive a woman who kept me from my own daughter for 18 years. Would you?

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