Baby Gisele had gone five months at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts without a single visitor when she caught the eye of Liz Smith, the hospital’s director of nursing.
“Who’s this beautiful angel?” Smith recalled asking a nurse about the tiny eight month old. Gisele, she was told, had been born weighing just two pounds and suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome due to her mother’s heroin use. She was only able to feed through a tube and her lungs were in need of specialized care. Smith said she was heartbroken after learning of the baby’s prolonged isolation.
“Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention,” Smith told the Washington Post. “I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe.”
What an inspiring story. I am going to work harder every day to be just like Liz Smith.https://t.co/GtUZRpIP9F
— Richard Embrey (@Rich_Embrey) April 3, 2019
Three weeks later, Smith was accepted as a foster mother and took the baby home with the understanding that the state would reunite the infant with her birth parents if they so chose. Initially, Gisele’s birth parents visited weekly, but the state ultimately ruled them incapable of caring for her. That moment, Smith said, was the most bittersweet of her entire life.
“The day I got the call that their parental rights were terminated was very sad,” she said. “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.”
Two years later, Gisele still needs to use a supplemental feeding tube but has developed into a healthy child with a love for avocados and pizza. Described as a “nurturer by nature” by one of her sisters, Liz acknowledged that she had always wanted children of her own but things had never worked out until that fateful day at the hospital.
“Her new favorite song is ‘You Are My Sunshine,’” Smith told the Post. “And every time she sings it, I think to myself, ‘You have no idea.’”
Read the full story at the Washington Post.