Woman, 92, Adopts Beloved Cousin, 76 — Their 60-Year Bond Was Forged In Family Tragedy [Video]

Muriel Clayton proves you can become a new mom at any age. She’s 92 but recently became a mother to her cousin — and unofficial daughter for 60 years — Mary Smith, 76. She adopted her.

On Tuesday, the women headed to a Dallas courtroom, where a judge declared their relationship official. Afterward, newly adopted children usually get a teddy bear, but at 76, Mary was a bit too old for that.

Both of them got white orchids instead after giggling with delight that their lifelong bond had been sealed in the official record.

Now that she’s adopted a woman she’s long considered her family at 92, Muriel feels like her life is finally complete, she told WFAA.

“I have worked jigsaw puzzles, and my life had been a beautiful picture. But one piece was missing, and that was Mary. And now I’ve got that piece in place. Officially!”

Their relationship began in tragedy. Smith’s father died of a heart attack in downtown Dallas when he was only 45. She was 11. Unfortunately, her mother suffered from mental illness and though “she was a sweet lady, a really great lady… she just couldn’t live in the real world,” Smith, 76, said.

With no one to take care of her, Muriel decided to take her in for a while; she had four daughters of her own. The young girl was passed between other family members for three years, then realized life had been happiest with her fun older cousin, the Dallas News added.

At 14, they made the stay permanent, and she got a whole new family, including four younger sisters. Even though she wasn’t adopted at the time, she was warmly welcomed.

“They never thought of her as anything else but their sister,” Clayton, 92, told Huffington Post. “Two of her younger sisters didn’t even know they were not her natural sisters until they were older.”

Mary’s mother died at 73 in a mental institution, where she’d remained for the rest of her life. The 92-year-old wanted to wait until she had passed, out of respect, but by then her beloved cousin was grown up.

Apparently, by the time she reached 76, it was finally time.

“I got to thinking, you know, I need to make her legally mine before I go.”

And so the day before Mother’s Day, she sat her down and made her request.

“I said, ‘I have been thinking about adopting you, what do you think about that?’ And her little face just lit up!”

With the record now showing the women are officially family, the 92-year-old mom and her newly adopted 76-year-old daughter are thrilled.

“I feel very happy. She has been Mom for a long time, and now it’s official.

“I wanted her to be mine. And she is!”

[Photo Courtesy Today Show Twitter]

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