Two years ago, a baby, who was born prematurely and was diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome as a consequence of being exposed to opiates in the womb, was lucky enough to meet a nurse who decided to become her mother.
Liz Smith of Lowell, Massachusetts, works as a senior director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Boston, had never considered foster care or adoption until she met baby Gisele, then 8 months old, had been born prematurely at another hospital in July 2016, weighing just under 2 pounds.
“Literally, Gisele crossed my path in a stroller and we locked eyes and that was it,” she told CBS Boston.
After finding out that the baby did not have a single visitor in her five months at the hospital, Liz stepped in to take care of her. She would visit Gisele every day after a long day at work and help her to recover.
“Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention,” she told The Washington Post. “I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe.”
Social service workers were trying to place her in foster care because her birth parents, who both suffered from drug addiction were declared unfit in October 2016.
“Gisele,” Smith told herself all the way home that evening. “Gisele,” Smith told The Washington Post, it was at that moment that she knew: “I’m going to foster this baby. I’m going to be her mother.”
“She was behind developmentally, and I wanted to get her out of the hospital and get her thriving,” she recalled.
Smith received permission to take Gisele home three weeks later with the stipulation that every effort would be made by the state to reunite the infant with her birth parents, who visited weekly.
After more than a year of being in foster care, some 533 days after their first met, Gisele was adopted by Smith in October 2018 when it was clear that the birth parents were no longer in the picture.
“That whole day was so surreal,” Smith told The Boston Herald. “I just remember feeling this relief and calmness, it was this overwhelming peace.”
Smith said Gisele, now 2 years old, is “vibrant.”
“She is so fun, she is busy, she is thriving, she has quite the sense of humor,” Smith said. “She continues to amaze me with her strength and resilience every day.”