Miché Solomon wasn’t expecting to have her world turned upside down during what seemed to be a normal day of high school, but what she ended up finding out on this day would change how she saw her last 17 years of life and how she would view the world for the rest of it.
A Normal Day
It was the beginning of a normal day at Zwaanswyk High School in Cape Town, South Africa. It was the first day of the new school year, which is an exciting time for all students.
Especially when it is your last year of high school, you just want to live it up and have a fun year. Miché Solomon did not realize that her life would be turned upside down on the first day of school, though.
The New Girl
Miché Solomon was in her last year of school at Zwaanswyk High School, so she was not so observant of all of the new students that just started studying there. At least, not until the entire school pointed out something bizarre to her.
Cassidy Nurse was starting the first day of her high school career on the same day that Miché Solomon was starting her first last day. If it weren’t for Miché’s friends pointing out this detail about Cassidy, the two likely never would have crossed paths, given their age difference.
Brushed It Off
Despite all of Miché’s friends urging her to meet up with Cassidy for one specific reason, Miché brushed it off and did not think much of what everyone was saying. It wasn’t until the two ran into each other that she understood what everyone was saying.
When Miché met up in the hallway at their high school, Miché finally understood why everyone was urging them to get together. They had some sort of instant connection, but neither of them understood how or why.
Had They Met?
Despite the fact that Miché and Cassidy had three years of age between them and there was no way they had ever crossed paths before this, they both had this unexplainable bond to one another.
Neither Miché nor Cassidy could put into real words the connection they felt between one another, but they knew it was something that could not be ignored. They started spending more and more time together and became close friends almost immediately.
Close Like Siblings
Despite their three year age gap, the girls became so close that it was as if they were long-lost sisters. “I would say, ‘Hey, baby girl!’ And she would say, ‘Hey, big sis!'” Miché remembered.
Big Sis Little Sis
“Sometimes I would go to the bathroom with her and say, ‘Let me brush your hair, let me fix you up with some lip gloss.'” She treated her like the sister she didn’t have, and they both loved it.
Everyone at school started making jokes to Miché and Cassidy about how close the pair had gotten, and even started saying to them, “Are you related?” Of course, the two just laughed and replied, “We don’t know- maybe in another life!”
Their Parents Had Questions
The two new best friends took a selfie together, as best friends do. When the girls got back to their respective homes that evening and showed the photo to their parents, they had quite different reactions from one another.
One Versus The Other
Miché’s parents were pretty nonchalant about the striking similarity of the two girls; Lavona, Miché’s mother, didn’t say much, but her dad said that he recognized Cassidy, as her father owns an electrical store that he shops at.
The Nurse Family
Cassidy’s parents, Celeste and Morne, had opposite reactions to the crazy selfie. The two parents stared at the photo for a moment and couldn’t take their eyes off of it, but Cassidy couldn’t figure out why.
Finally, they were able to clearly articulate their thoughts, but they weren’t so specific. They said that they needed to ask Miché a question next time the two girls were together. What could they be asking her?
When’s Your Birthday?
Cassidy’s parents knew that Miché looked familiar, but they needed concrete confirmation before they assumed anything in particular. They told their daughter to ask her new friend when her birthday was, so she did just that.
Instead of beating around the bush and being afraid of the answer she was going to get, she jumped straight to the point and said, a bit shyly, “Miché, were you born on April 30, 1997?”
She Thought It Was A Joke
Miché was not sure why Cassidy was randomly asking about her birth date, so she responded with a sarcastic comment: “Why? Are you stalking me on Facebook?” Cassidy’s face didn’t become more cheerful after this joke, though.
Miché realized she was being completely serious and didn’t have much of a joking intention behind this random question, so she straightened out her face and said yes, she was born on April 30, 1997.
Can We Speak With You?
A few weeks passed since Cassidy asked Miché about her birth date out of the blue, so Miché had forgotten about it at that point. That was, at least, until Miché got pulled from her math lesson.
She Was Confused
When she got pulled out of class, she was brought into the headmaster’s office, where she was greeted by two social workers. Miché was a good student, she didn’t get into trouble or anything like that. What could this be about?
17 Years Ago
The two social workers explained to Miché that there was a reason Cassidy asked when her birthday was a few weeks ago. They said that there had been a kidnapping of a three-day-old baby named Zephany Nurse.
They Found A Lead
This kidnapping of a three-day-old baby took place exactly three days after Miché was born 17 years ago. The case was never solved, but the police finally thought they had found a lead as to what happened.
Happened Right In Cape Town
This kidnapping happened right in Cape Town at Groote Schuur Hospital, and the baby had yet to be found, even 17 years later. Miché had no idea what this had to do with her, though.
as she replied with, “I wasn’t born at Groote Shuur Hospital, I was born at the Retreat Hospital 20 minutes away,” everyone in the room knew exactly what to say next. What Miché would find out would change her life.
It’s Not True
The social workers let Miché process this idea for a minute before taking a deep breath and telling her gently that there was actually no record on file of her being born at the Retreat Hospital.
Despite what her birth certificate said, Miché was definitely not born where she thought she was. She sat there speechless and emotionless. Though she believed they had to be wrong, she agreed to a DNA test.
After just one day, the DNA test results came back. Much to Miché’s surprise, her birth name was, in fact, Zephany Nurse, and she was kidnapped from Groote Schuur Hospital when she was just three days old.
Didn’t Know Where To Turn
Miché wasn’t a baby anymore, she was a young adult about to finish high school and start her own life. Her entire life was a lie and she had no idea what to think of anything anymore. How could this be real?
Can’t Go Home
After they received the positive DNA results, the police informed Miché that she was not allowed to return to her home. She still had a few months before she turned 18 and could live wherever she pleased.
For now, until she turned 18, she had to live in a safe home. On top of all of this horrible news, she found out that Lavona, the woman she had been calling mom for the past 17 years, was arrested.
Miché was allowed to be present while Michael- the man Miché knew to be her father- was questioned by the police. He was not another suspect at this point, but they wanted to be sure he had nothing to do with the kidnapping.
Had Nothing To Do With It
They questioned him for a long time but never found any evidence that he even knew about this kidnapping, let alone that he was a part of it. Because of his innocence, he was released shortly after.
What Really Happened?
Michael explained to the police that Lavona was, in fact, pregnant, and the timeline of the pregnancy lined up perfectly with when she brought Miché home. It is now thought that she hid a miscarriage from her husband.
Chain Of Events
After hiding a miscarriage, she faked through the rest of her pregnancy, then stole Zephany from the hospital three days after she was born. She brought the newborn home and acted as though she had just delivered her.
Because of these awful actions that she decided to take 17 years ago, Lavona was now in custody awaiting her trial on charges of kidnapping and fraudulently claiming to be the mother of a child.
She Was Right Under Their Nose
Despite the fact that Celeste and Morne Nurse had three more children since Zephany went missing from the hospital, for the past 17 years they never gave up the search for their irreplaceable firstborn child.
Maybe They’ve Met
Little did they know, though, that their precious baby girl was growing up happily and healthily just five kilometers down the road from them this whole time. Thinking about the fact that they had likely crossed paths before was unimaginable.
Even though Celeste and Morne were Miché’s biological mother and father, she did not grow up even knowing they existed, so while they were hugging her and feeling every emotion in the world for the fact that their child was alive and healthy, she felt uncomfortable and empty inside.
Yearning For Lavona
Missing the woman that she grew up calling mom, she tried to have sympathy for this couple and put on a face for them, but at the end of the day, she was just sad for Lavona and Michael.
Lavona’s trial began in August 2015. She told the court a story about how she struggled to conceive and experienced several emotionally draining miscarriages. She explained that she had been approached by a woman named Sylvia…
She explained that Sylvia offered her a baby because the birth mother was not interested, so Lavona adopted her. There was no found evidence that this Sylvia woman existed. On top of this, there was a witness who was at the hospital on the night of the kidnapping.
All Signs Point To Lavona
The witness was able to successfully pick Lavona out of a lineup and recognized her as the woman who was dressed as a nurse at the hospital that night. All signs pointed to Lavona being guilty.
Lavona was handed a sentence of 10 years in prison due to kidnapping, fraud, and her violation of the Children’s Act. Later in the year, Miché decided to visit Lavona in prison and try to get some answers from her. Miché said, “I saw my mother in the clothing that female prisoners wear and it broke my heart. I cried and cried.”
Where Should She Live?
Miché considered moving in with her biological mom or dad, but on top of the fact that they were divorced and she’d have to pick one or the other, she felt it was just simply too weird for her.
They weren’t her parents in her heart, even if they were her parents by blood. Part of her even hated them for taking away the woman she thought was her mother for the first 17 years of her life.
Miché eventually stayed with a safe and comfortable choice of moving back in with Michael. She knew that this was where she felt the safest and where she felt truly at home, so moving in with the Nurse family wasn’t an option for her.
An Identity Crisis
Not surprisingly, Miché was unsure which name she should go by now, her birth name Zephany Nurse, or the name she’d been going by forever Miché Solomon. After some healing and processing, she decided that she will answer to either name.
Will Answer To Either
She allows others to choose which they are comfortable with. She says, “I think I hated Zephany in the beginning. She came with such force, such an uninvited invitation, so much suffering, and so much pain.
At the end of the day, Zephany is the truth and Miché, the 17-year-old girl that I was, she was a lie. So I’ve managed to balance both names. You can call me Zephany or Miché, it’s fine.”
At 22, Miché has overcome and accomplished more than the average 22-year-old has. She had her world turned upside down, dropped out of school and re-enrolled, watched her mother go to prison, and now is raising two children on her own as a single mother.
It’s not surprising that Miché has developed some deep trust issues since finding out that she was kidnapped as a newborn and then raised by said kidnappers, but lucky for her, she has found a strong support system in her life to help her through everything.
Miché had a biography written about her life, which is described as: “For the first time in her own words. Told with astonishing maturity, honesty and compassion, it is also a story of what it means to love and be loved, and of claiming your identity.”
This book was truly the first time Miché, or Zephany, was able to put this whole situation into her own words, with her own emotions, for the whole world to see. It is everything you want to hear about her story, straight from her mouth.
Waiting For Lavona
Miché and Michael are still living together in the home that Miché was raised in, waiting patiently for Lavona to come home and return their family back to normal. Miché says that she goes to visit Lavona in jail, which is 120 kilometers from their home, twice or three times each month.
Miché has said that she does not have much of any kind of relationship with her actual biological parents, as she feels they exploited her and, whether intentionally or not, ruined her life. She considers Lavona and Michael her family.
Open Book Festival
Physically writing the book about her life wasn’t enough for Miché Solomon to get the word out about her story. She is going to be presenting and reading the book in front of a huge audience at the open book festival!
While Miché’s life will need to adapt to a new kind of normal, she has the help and support from everyone in her life, and she is figuring out how to combat everything life throws at her.