Gisele didn’t have the best start in life. She was born prematurely, after just 29 weeks, weighing less than two pounds. She also had health problems as a result of her mum’s drug addiction and had no visitors for several months.
But when she was three months old, she was transferred to Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, USA, and her luck took a turn for the better.
Gisele was born prematurely and with health problems stemming from her mother’s drug addiction. Credit: CNN
Liz Smith, a 45-year-old nurse at the hospital, had always wanted to have children, but she suffered from infertility, and despite trying a variety of treatments, she was unable to get pregnant.
Ms Smith had never considered adoption before, but Gisele was a custodian of the state and in need of a home. Following a protracted legal process, Gisele went to live with Ms Smith in April 2017 – and the nurse said she knew the first time that she saw the baby girl that she wanted to be her mum.
Speaking to CNN, Ms Smith said: “It was an emotional roller coaster. When I initially started fostering her, the goal was reunification with her birth parents. I always had that as a reality in the back of my mind while I was taking care of her, but in the moment (I) knew she needed and deserved every ounce of love I had to give her.”
Last June, the parental rights of the birth parents were revoked as they were deemed unfit to care for Gisele.
Ms Smith added: “It was very bittersweet. I was experiencing this tremendous gain and happiness in my life where others were experiencing the opposite.”
Ms Smith says she has never been happier. Credit: CNN
Now Gisele is two years old, and despite being diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome as a result of being exposed to drugs during the pregnancy, her health is stable.
Ms Smith said: “She is thriving. She has a feeding tube where she still gets the majority of her nutrition through, but other than that, the specialist thinks she is just remarkable. They can’t believe the strides she has made and how healthy and strong she is. Her resilience is inspiring to me and every day I’m amazed by her.”
But while Ms Smith has done wonders, Gisele has also made her new mum ‘happier’ and ‘stronger’ than she’s ever been.
Ms Smith said: “We talk about the power of love, but to witness how it can transform a life and to witness how it transformed her life and mine is unbelievable. I have never been happier or stronger and just I couldn’t imagine life without her.”