“Who’s this beautiful angel?” was Liz Smith’s first thought when she saw the bright blue-eyed girl on her way to work as director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts.
Eight month old Gisele was a NICU preemie and a ward of the state, who had already been at the hospital for five months. Born premature and weighing a little below 2 pounds, she was also diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Born in July 2016, the state of Massachusetts took custody of Gisele on her third month and transferred her to the neonatal intensive care unit of the Franciscan Children’s hospital. As a NICU preemie, she had a feeding tube and her lungs needed specialized care. In her five-month long stay, not a single visitor came by to see Gisele.
Without a single visitor in five months, the little girl was on the verge of entering the foster care system—until Smith stepped in and decided to adopt Gisele herself.
"My mom was a pediatric nurse who always put others first,” Smith told the Post. “So I grew up wanting to be a nurse, too.”
Smith, 45, grew up with two dreams: to be a pediatric nurse and a parent. While she was able to achieve her first goal, and has been a nurse for 22 years, she spent years pursuing the second and had almost given up hope that it would ever happen. Until she met Gisele.
“Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention. I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe.”
Smith immediately started the paperwork to foster Gisel. And when Gisele was 9 months old, she was able to her Gisele home, with the agreement that the state would still endeavor to reunite her with her birth parents.
“Leaving the parking lot of the hospital with Gisele and a car full of baby stuff, I was in shock that it was happening. I was excited but nervous, realizing that I was committing everything I had to this child who might not be in my life forever.”
The state soon determined that Gisele’s parents couldn’t care for her, which ultimately paved the way for Gisele's adoption. In an interview, Smith discussed how she was both thrilled and saddened by the development. “The day I got the call that their parental rights were terminated was very sad. 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.”
The NICU preemie thrived under Smith’s loving care, and she was officially welcomed as member of the family in October 2018.