Liz Smith followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a pediatric nurse years ago. Liz is currently the Director of Nursing at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts. Little did she know following her chosen career path also meant she’d find her daughter in a NICU.
Liz first saw her sweet baby’s big blue eyes in 2016 when the little one was there for treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome. Gisele was 8-months-old when she first saw her angelic face ringed in curls.
For five months Gisele remained under the care of the hospital – a ward of the state – as she withdrew from substances she was exposed to before birth. As a preemie, Gisele was born at one pound, fourteen ounces and by three months old she needed specialized treatment for a lung condition.
While the child received excellent medical care, she did not thrive as many would like. She’d just never been out of the hospital’s care. She developed “oral aversion,” a condition in which a child who’s never experienced pleasure from eating becomes reluctant to eat by mouth, so a feeding tube was necessary.
For five months social workers attempted to place Gisele with foster parents, but none would take a child with such specialized medical needs. Liz Smith knew she needed to step up and help. She told herself one day on the way home, “I’m going to foster this baby. I’m going to be her mother.”
Smith attempted years before to have a child via medical intervention, but after a few rounds found herself at the end of her journey to be a mother: or so she thought.
“I never imagined becoming a mom would be a challenge,” she told Boston.com, “It’s a desire you can try to push away and fill with other distractions, but it never goes away.”
Gisele changed everything.
Three weeks after applying to the state to foster the baby, Gisele came home with her. Though the state allowed the parents to see Gisele it was later determined by the courts they were unfit, and their parental rights were terminated. The way was clear for Smith to make Gisele her daughter.
When I became Gisele’s mom it really was a feeling I can’t even describe,” she told the Boston Globe. “It was this relief and stability and just so much to look forward to without all of the questions and the unknown.”
Gisele still needs some medical interventions, but she is growing and thriving, and her prognosis is good. What a beautiful story of love. May God bless their family.