Massachusetts nurse adopts abandoned baby, father also battled addiction.
A nurse who fell in love with a premature, abandoned baby at her hospital is now mother to the thriving toddler.
On Thursday, Liz Smith, 45, the director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts told the Washington Post of her 2-year-old daughter 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.”
When Gisele was a newborn, she was in state custody because her mother used drugs during pregnancy, reported the Washington Post. As such, the baby developed neonatal abstinence syndrome, lung complications, and had weak oral muscles, so she fed through a gastric tube. According to Smith, Gisele’s father also battled addiction.
Gisele was transferred to Franciscan in October 2016, but Smith didn’t meet her until March the next year when she switched units within the hospital. Her parents had a few supervised visits, but no one else came.
Smith’s health insurance had just rejected coverage for her infertility treatments. “I wasn’t considering adoption at all, but literally when Gisele and locked eyes, I knew I was going to be her mother,” Smith tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
In April, Smith was allowed to foster 8-month-old Gisele. “Bringing her home felt urgent because, for most of her life, Gisele lay in a crib, so she had to get moving and meet her milestones,” Liz tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “She was barely sitting up on her own. At home, she would stare at the ceiling a lot because she was used to the view.”
Smith’s coworkers organized a baby shower. “I had mixed feelings because Gisele needed some basic items and I wanted to enjoy the moment, but her parents were still trying to win custody,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There was a lot of stress.”
Gisele had weekly, supervised visits with her parents. “During her first visit, I sat in my parked car outside Whole Foods for 45 minutes and thought, ‘Does she know where I am? Is she scared?’” says Smith.
Sometimes, the visits were upsetting to Gisele, according to Smith. “There was no bond between Gisele and her parents, though they genuinely believed they could care for her. Eventually, they disengaged and their connection faded away. I don’t think they realized what her medical needs required.”
In July 2017, Smith sought adoption while the state searched for a possible parent within the toddler’s extended family. “My nephew asked me, ‘What if we lose Gisele? She’s part of our family,’” Smith
Gisele was gaining gross motor and social skills, although she still wore her feeding tube, which delivered formula and pureed foods to her stomach.
On October 18th, reported the Washington Post, Smith legally adopted her daughter. Gisele attends daycare three times a week, and in April, she’s entering preschool.
“Gisele is totally caught up with her milestones — and she’s off-the-charts socially,” Smith. “From being immobile in a crib at 8-months-old to where she is now, is unthinkable.”