Liz Smith, 45, had always wanted to have a baby of her own but suffered from infertility.
On the same day she found out she was ineligible for IVF in 2016, the senior nurse was introduced to then three-month-old Gisele.
The baby had been suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome when she was transferred to the Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Gisele’s condition was a result of being exposed to narcotics during pregnancy and she had to be weaned off drugs as a result.
After the little girl had no visitors for several months, a member of hospital staff asked Ms Smith if she had been introduced to the child.
The co-worker told Ms Smith that the baby needed a medical foster home and she would be the perfect mother for her.
They bonded and she began visiting her often.
Ms Smith, who is senior director of nursing at Franciscan Children’s Hospital, said: “I went to see her every day.
“It was kind of my reward after a long work day.”
The state claimed custody of Gisele in October 2016 while she was in hospital, with her parents battling addiction problems.
Ms Smith initially decided to foster the baby in April 2017 with the aim of returning her to her birth parents.
The mother and father had supervised visits but they gradually decreased over time, and so Ms Smith then decided to pursue adoption.
The nurse’s family and friends joined her when her adoption of two-year-old Gisele was finalised on October 2018.
Ms Smith said: “I remember some of the painful pieces at times, but when I look at her I’m so happy I can’t believe I was ever so upset. I can’t remember the hard times because she makes me so happy.”
She added: “The things that made her giggle and laugh randomly, the times that she’ll notice that I’m sad and come up to me and give me a hug just out of the blue, or seeing her running to me from daycare. Those are the moments I love.”
Gisele’s condition means she has to receive much of her nutrition through a feeding tube, but in recent months she has started eating some food by mouth.
Ms Smith said: “She’s doing remarkable, it’s just a slow progression but in the right direction.”