Life did not start off on the right foot for baby Gisele. Because Gisele came into this world prematurely to a mother who abused heroin, cocaine, and methadone like there was no tomorrow, Gisele was tiny and in terrible shape. She weighed under two pounds when she was born and was diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which means she suffered from withdrawal symptoms after getting hooked on the strong narcotics while in her mother’s womb.
Despite her small size, she spent the first three months of her life in the care of her mother at home until the state removed her and sent her to the good people at the Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts. The doctors ordered Gisele to undergo specialized care for her underdeveloped lungs.
The director of nursing at the hospital, Liz Smith, came across Gisele while she was in the intensive care unit. And when she looked at the girl’s information, Smith realized a horrible fact about this tiny baby – she had been in the hospital for five months without a single visitor.
After meeting Gisele, Smith kept thinking about the baby. The pain and suffering and loneliness that the infant must have endured made Smith cringe.
Smith had spent the prime of her life, building a successful career. Because she always put her patients first, she never seemed to have time to start a family of her own. Before she knew it, it was as if life had passed her by. She was past the prime of her life and never had the opportunity to start a family with someone or undergo expensive in-vitro fertilization that her insurance refused to cover.
But when she realized that Gisele was alone in the world, she felt called to do something extreme. Perhaps, her chance at a family was not lost after all.
“Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention,” Smith revealed in an emotional interview with The Washington Post. “I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe.”
Smith then put in a request to become baby Gisele’s foster mother. And as the paperwork was pushed around, she started visiting her.
“She was behind developmentally, and I wanted to get her out of the hospital and get her thriving,” Smith said.
It took some time, but eventually, Smith got the official “go-ahead” to take Gisele out of the hospital and bring her home. However, Smith had to agree to a heart-breaking condition. The state was going to attempt to establish a connection with Gisele’s birth family, and there was nothing Smith could do about it.
But she wasn’t going to let that get her down.
“Leaving the parking lot of the hospital with Gisele and a car full of baby stuff, I was in shock that it was happening.”
Smith savored every moment with baby Gisele because she knew that if her parents were found, she could lose her in an instant.
But then the state terminated parental rights because they determined that Gisele’s birth parents were unfit and incapable of caring for a child. Smith jumped at the chance to adopt her foster child.
“The day I got the call that their parental rights were terminated was very sad,” Smith admitted. “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 Smith and Gisele are happy together, and the successful mother is able to give the baby girl the life she deserves.
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