Biological connections are not enough for children to love people – what is important is the spiritual and emotional connection. So says an international consultant in Human Education and Development, Edris Khamissa commenting on the fascinating story of Zephany Nurse which has captured the imaginations of South Africans.
Zephany Nurse, now 18 years old, was a victim of kidnapping 17 years ago. Her miraculous discovery took place this year, when her younger biological sister enrolled at the high school she was attending at the time and fellow learners commented on the peculiar resemblance between the two girls. DNA tests then later revealed they were in fact sisters.
The real life drama began just three days after her birth when she was taken from her mother’s arms at Groote Schuur Hospital maternity ward. Her distraught parents never stopped looking for their missing daughter and divorced shortly before the discovery was made.
The 50-year-old woman accused of snatching Nurse from the hospital on 30 April 1997, will appear in court on charges of kidnapping, fraud and contravening sections of the Children’s Act. She was reunited with her biological parents and family in February, earlier this year.
Media reports claim that Nurse is battling to cope with the separation from the woman she believed was her mother for most of her life.
“Zephany Nurse has not been exposed to the love of her biological parents and has had no experience of them except now,” says Khamissa.
Her grandmother, Zephra Nurse, says that she cannot forgive the woman who allegedly abducted her granddaughter as well as the fact that the family is struggling to adjust after the missing child’s discovery.
The grandmother had bitter words for the accused baby snatcher. “This woman has no remorse,” she was quoted as saying.
Zephra Nurse has accused the teenager of being an ‘insolent brat’, having a rude attitude and swearing. Morne Nurse, her father, has claimed she is a stranger and was “not raised properly”. The family continues to try and build a relationship with her.
Khamissa explained: “The trauma will impact her relationships with people. In the end she is aware that the beginning was one of deception and this experience may cause a sense of insecurity as well as erode trust she has in other people.”
Matric is a crucial year for all school going individuals. Zephany is currently finishing matric, which leaves the question of her psychological state unanswered following the discovery that the woman she’s been living with is not her birth mother.
“It may affect her self-esteem, her emotional stability and future relationships with people,” said Khamissa.
When breaking the news to a child that is not biologically your own, Khamissa emphasised that you have to assure the child that the situation that drove you to do this has been noble and they must not feel a sense of rejection.
“It is important to understand your child and to explain the circumstances behind the situation – children can be resilient.”
The Nurse family is eager for the case, set to go to trial next February, to be wrapped up. VOC (Zuhaa Francis)