A nurse who fell in love with a premature, abandoned baby at her hospital is now mother to the thriving toddler.
Liz Smith, the director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts, US, revealed Gisele spent five months in hospital with no visitors.
Yet it only took the 45-year-old a matter of hours to fall for the adorable toddler.
“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,” she told the Washington Post.
When Gisele was a newborn, she was in state custody because her mother used drugs during pregnancy.
As such, the baby developed neonatal abstinence syndrome, lung complications, and had weak oral muscles, so she fed through a gastric tube.
According to Ms Smith, Gisele’s father also battled addiction.
Gisele was transferred to Franciscan Hospital in October 2016, but Ms 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.
Ms Smith’s health insurance had just rejected coverage for her infertility treatments.
“I wasn’t considering adoption at all, but literally when Gisele and I locked eyes, I knew I was going to be her mother,” Ms Smith told Yahoo Lifestyle.
In April, Ms Smith was allowed to foster eight-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,” she said.
“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.”
Ms Smith’s coworkers even organised 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.
“There was a lot of stress.”
Fight for adoption
Gisele had weekly, supervised visits with her parents, which Ms Smith said was upsetting for Gisele.
“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 realised what her medical needs required.”
In July 2017, Ms 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,’” Ms Smith recalled.
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, Ms Smith legally adopted her daughter.
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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,” Ms Smith said.
“From being immobile in a crib at eight-months-old to where she is now, is unthinkable.”
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