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1. Celeste Nurse was lying in a South African hospital bed three days after giving a cesarean birth to her daughter Zephany, which means “The Lord has hidden” in Hebrew. The new mother was drifting in and out of consciousness when she spotted a woman in her room – a nurse, she presumed – who asked to pick up her newborn. Celeste nodded and fell back to sleep. She was soon being shaken from her sleep by a nurse who, almost yelling, asked, “Where’s your baby?!” Celeste tore the IV from her arm and ran through the hallways searching for her baby. Zephany was born April 27, 1997, and her Hebrew name actually became her fate, as she would not be found for 17 years. Celeste and her husband Morne worked with the police as much as they could in the early days of the disappearance, but leads were scarce. A few leads revived their hopes, but they fell flat. One woman even tried to extort a great deal of money from Celeste and Morne, saying she knew where their daughter was. She was arrested for attempted extortion. Celeste and Morne went on to have other children, but still clinging to the hope that they would one-day find their first-born. When one of their daughters was attending school in 2014, she commented to her parents on a girl, a senior, who looked very much like her. A series of investigations ensued, culminating with a DNA sample taken of the look-alike. The girl, now 17, was, indeed, Zephany. The woman who claimed to be her mother was charged with kidnapping and fraud.
2. In 2012, in Mumbai, India, Durga Kale took her 7-month-old son to the hospital because he was suffering from severe skin boils. As she sat outside the exam area, Durga was approached by a woman, who sat beside her and offered her some food and tea. She claimed to be an acquaintance of Durga’s brother-in-law. Feeling very comfortable with the woman, Durga got up and asked the woman if she could watch her son for just a moment. When she returned, the woman and her son were gone. The unknown woman, meanwhile, had turned the child over to a young man at a mosque and even provided medicines and milk. A nearby shopkeeper recognized the young boy and alerted police. The young boy was reunited with his mother within a matter of days. Strangely enough, the mother noticed something very unusual about her son. His boils were extremely reduced and he was much healthier. Police are still on the lookout for the mysterious woman who kidnapped the boy.
3. In 2009, in Argentina, Jose Pratto learned of his true identity at the age of 32. His mother, Luisa, was abducted during a state of terror when she was four months pregnant with him. She was tortured and raped in front of her two other young children. When she gave birth, her son was given to a couple linked to the Air Force. Jose’s real identity was discovered by the Grandmothers of the Plaza of Mayo, an organization that reunites children with their biological parents. He has now been able to connect with both of his biological parents. The organization says there are still hundreds of Argentinian children of the dictatorship era who still do not know their true identities.
4. When Sarah Finkelstein was 4, her father picked her up from her mother’s home in Norway and never brought her back. Instead, he flew to America with his daughter. As Sarah was growing up, he filled her head with lies about her mother, all negative. Her mother was actually searching frantically for her, hiring detectives and informing Interpol. When Sarah was 13, she seen her photo on a milk carton with Missing at the top of it. She knew then that her life had been a lie. At age 16, Sarah went to live with a family she knew in New Jersey. Her father could not go to the police about it because of obvious reasons. Sarah then was able to look up her mother, who kept the name Finkelstein so she could be tracked easily. She called and said, “Hello, this is your daughter.” There was a silence, and then her mother replied, with a sad voice, “Are you OK?”
Within a year, they reunited in New York. A documentary was made on Sarah’s life.
5. A few hours after Nelly Reyes gave birth to her son more than 40 years ago in Chile, a nurse told her the child was born with a heart condition. A short time later, a nurse told her that her baby had died. She was devastated. And despite her many tearful pleas to see her son’s body, she was denied. She also was never given a death certificate. Turns out, the medical professionals were lying to her. Her son was fine. But back in the 70s and 80s, many babies were stolen and sold for adoptions. Nelly’s son wound up with a couple in Tacoma, Washington, who had no knowledge of the boy being stolen. Travis Tolliver, now 42, was reunited with his biological mother last year after a DNA test confirmed his identity. A priest has been implicated in the scheme to sell children to well-to-do families.
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