Correction & Clarification: An earlier version of this story misstated the baby’s diagnosis. It is neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Nurse Liz Smith thought that at almost 40, her chances of becoming a parent were but a dream.
She tried several methods of getting pregnant, including sperm donation and IVF (in vitro fertilization), but learned her labs prevented her from being a candidate. “That was a bad day,” Smith recalled, in an interview with the hospital.
Then she met Gisele at her hospital, Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Mass., where she was senior director of nursing. Born July 2016 prematurely at 29 weeks and weighing just 1 pound, 14 ounces, Gisele came into the world with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), from being exposed to narcotics during the pregnancy.Gisele’s parents, and no one else, either, came to visit Gisele for five months after she was born, The Washington Post reported. Smith’s dream of becoming a parent was set in motion.
‘Who’s this beautiful angel?’
Smith was taken with the baby girl instantly.Gisele had already been at the hospital for five months by the time Smith spotted a nurse wheeling her down the hall.
“Who’s this beautiful angel?” Smith asked, and the nurse answered, “Her name is Gisele.”
Smith began visiting Gisele every day and rode the roller coaster of gains and setbacks. “It was my reward after a long workday,” she told the hospital.The state took custody of Gisele that October and with the guidance of friends and co-workers, Smith began fostering Gisele. She helped her through cocaine and heroin withdrawal and fed her through a gastrostomy tube about 16 hours a day. The initial goal was to reunite Gisele with her birth parents. Meanwhile, Smith said she was growing more in love with Gisele.
“I remember certain nights, one in particular, when she was hooked up to the feed and I was walking by the mirror and the thought went into my head of losing her. I had to go there in my mind because it was still a reality, but it made me sick to my stomach. You can’t just love a certain percentage. You have to give it your all.”
The state ended the parents’ parental birth rights nine months after Smith began fostering Gisele and their visits to see Gisele dwindled. Smith adopted Gisele Katherine Smith on Oct. 18, 2018.
Gisele is now 2 and her mother told Today that she still has a feeding tube but asks for pizza and dances to “Baby Shark,” much like other toddlers. ““If you told me a year ago she would be asking for pizza, I would not have believed you,” Smith said.
The judge who was there on the day of Gisele’s adoption told Smith it was as if the two were meant for each other.
“When a judge walks in the room, everyone stands out of respect. But today I stand in respect for you, Liz, because you deserve the respect from this room. A birthing day is a miracle. But adopting a child from miles away is destiny. That’s what brought you two together.”