The infant was a ward of the state who had been born premature and weighed 1 pound and 14 ounces.
Liz Smith loved being an aunt to her 13 nieces and nephew but the working nurse dreamed of being a mom someday. Approaching 40, Liz decided to see a fertility specialist but sadly her labs disqualified her for IVF. “When that door closed quickly and suddenly,” said Liz according to Franciscan Children, “it was a bad day.” Ironically that day was about to turn into a life-changing one. The director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s hospital in Brighton, Mass., was on her way toward the elevator when she met a sweet baby. “Who’s this beautiful angel?” Smith asked the nurse who was wheeling the infant down the hall. “Her name is Gisele,” the nurse told her.
This nurse, Liz Smith, director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s hospital in Brighton, Mass., deserves a special place in heaven and in our hearts!!— Keith Wood (@kwood360) April 3, 2019
An infant did not have any hospital visitors for five months. So this nurse adopted her. https://t.co/CrzpRpvrVc
Gisele was born prematurely at just 29 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces. The infant spent almost three months in the NICU on ventilator support as she developed an oral aversion. The phenomenon is common among premature babies who’ve never experienced pleasure from feeding and because of the complications that came with it, Gisele was later transferred to Franciscan Children’s. Her lungs needed specialized care, and she had a feeding tube, according to the Washington Post. It was found that Gisele had neonatal abstinence syndrome which was caused as a result of her birth mother using heroin, cocaine and methadone during pregnancy. Now at 8 months old, social workers were trying to get the little girl into foster care. What's heartbreaking to know is that Gisele was under the care of her hospital for five months without a single visitor. "Gisele,” Smith said to her herself as she went back home that evening. “Gisele.” She knew: “I'm going to foster this baby. I'm going to be her mother.”
"Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention,” she said. “I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe. She was behind developmentally, and I wanted to get her out of the hospital and get her thriving,” Smith recalled as she tried to request to foster the baby. When Gisele was 9 months old, Smith took the infant home. "I was excited but nervous, realizing that I was committing everything I had to this child who might not be in my life forever,” she said.
"It hit me, all of a sudden, that my life had changed, my dream was coming true. But [also] that somebody else was losing her and that was really hard." Against the odds, this nurse adopted a baby and found her 'missing piece' https://t.co/nQh06lmDlA via @TODAYshow #adoption pic.twitter.com/g7bqHdpfdt— ProjectMeetMeHalfway (@ProjectMMH) March 13, 2019
Gisele’s birth parents were initially given weekly visits to see their baby in an attempt to reunite her with her family but it didn't work out. The state determined that they were incapable of caring for the infant, and their parental rights were terminated. It was a bitter-sweet moment for Smith. “The day I got the call that their parental rights were terminated was very sad,” she said. “My gain was another’s loss. It’s a feeling difficult to describe when you are experiencing this life-changing moment that someone else is as well, in the opposite way. The bottom line is: It’s devastating for another family. ”But soon Smith was free to celebrate finally becoming a mother. “The day I got the phone call with the adoption date was the day that I was jumping up and down,” Smith told TODAY. “They said ‘October 18th’ and it’s my grandmother’s birthday and I just started crying.”
When the judge referred to Smith as "mom," it changed everything... "That’s where I realized I was a parent." Under Smith's care, Gisele began to flourish developmentally. Now, she's described as a happy, bubbly, 2-year-old girl who loves Play-Doh and dancing to "Baby Shark." Although she still has a feeding tube her appetite has improved. “Becoming a nurse was easy, but becoming a mom was not,” Smith joked but she wouldn't change any of it. "The things that make her giggle, the times that she’ll notice I’m sad and come up to give me a hug, or seeing her wake up in the morning. You love them so much that you can’t imagine anything else,” she shared.