Although Gisele’s birth parents were initially granted supervised weekly visits, ultimately the state determined that they were incapable of caring for the infant, and their parental rights were terminated. No other family members were found who were able to take the baby.

Smith was thrilled that she could apply to adopt Gisele, but she understood the sorrow of the situation for the birth mother and father.

“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.”

With plenty of nurturing from Smith, her brother, Phil Smith, who lived with her at the time, and other trusted caregivers, the infant was soon meeting milestone after milestone.