As Today reports, Murial Clayton took in her first cousin, Mary Smith, when family problems left the girl with nowhere to turn. Smith was 13 when she went to live with Clayton, who had two young children at the time and would go on to have two more.
Clayton says that Smith was a natural part of the family.
“She always fit in beautifully,” Clayton said. “She was always my child and everybody knew that. We even look quite a bit alike.”
For sixty-two years, the two considered themselves mother and daughter, but Clayton says that she hesitated to make it official out of consideration for Smith’s biological mother.
“I said, ‘I’ve thought about really adopting you for real for a long time, how do you feel about that?’ And her face just lit up beautifully and she said ‘that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.’”
Smith, now age 76 and the mother of four children of her own, wasn’t expecting Clayton to suggest an adoption, but thought it was a beautiful idea.
“I was really pleasantly surprised that she would come up with that,” said Smith. “She’s very much that way — she always comes up with something special.”
In order to file the papers for the adoption, Clayton turned to help from her grandson— who is Smith’s son. According to Yahoo News, the funnier side of what she was trying to do added a bit of levity to the process.
“He said, ‘This is my grandmother and she’s trying to adopt my mother.’ I said, ‘You better not say that. They will look at us like we’re in the funny farm.”
On Tuesday, Clayton officially adopted Smith at a Dallas courthouse.
“As I have gotten older, it’s kind of like my life is a beautiful jigsaw puzzle, but there was a piece missing,” said Clayton. “And that piece was Mary. And I got her in my life puzzle, that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s what I did yesterday.”
It was as though the adoption filled in a missing piece of her life.