Pediatric nurse Liz Smith always dreamed of being a mother, but she never imagined how long that journey would be. Smith suffered from infertility and was forced to go through several treatments with no success. Soon, however, her life changed.
In 2016, Smith met Gisele, a three-month-old girl who had been transferred to Smith’s hospital after being born prematurely to a mother with drug problems. Gisele had several health issues and weighed under two pounds. For several months, nobody visited her at the hospital, causing several nurses to ask Smith if she knew of Giselle. Smith recalls her coworker saying, “She needs a medical foster home and you two are the perfect pair.”
Smith hadn’t considered adoption or foster care before she met Gisele, but the moment she saw her she knew that she was meant to be her mother.
This decision would kickstart a long and emotional legal battle for Smith since Gisele was a ward of the state when she was admitted to Franciscan Children’s Hospital. Smith started out as a foster parent, housing Gisele in August 2017, describing the initial process of motherhood as wild.
She 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.”
Gisele’s birth parents were initially allowed supervised visits and were optimistic that they would one day be Giselle’s only parents again. However, the state of Massachusetts terminated their parental rights in the summer of 2018 when they determined the couple couldn’t adequately care for Gisele.
Smith felt a mixture of emotions when she learned the news. She said, “It was very bittersweet. I was experiencing this tremendous gain and happiness in my life where others were experiencing the opposite.”
Smith officially adopted Gisele in October of 2018 and their little family continues to thrive. Gisele is now a “giggly and spunky” two-year-old who continues to improve in health each day. She 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.”
Smith and Gisele are the embodiment of the healing power of love. Gisele gave Smith the gift of motherhood and Smith gave Gisele the gift of a loving mother. Smith thinks so too. She 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.”
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