After 60 years of referring to one another as mother and daughter, Muriel Clayton, 92, said her dream has finally come true now that she has legally adopted Mary Smith, her first cousin whom she's raised since she was 11 years old.
"It's not going to change anything except each one of my daughters were so thrilled," Clayton, of Dallas, told ABC News. "They said it was beautiful. They love Mary and Mary loves them. We've always been a close family and this will just be the icing on the cake."
Smith, now 76, was taken under Clayton's wing at the age of 14 after her father died, joining Clayton's husband and four daughters in the household.
"Her mother was ill in an institution and thought she would be well enough to take care of her child, but she wasn't," Clayton said. "Mary's father had a massive heart attack when he was 45 years old."
Out of respect for Smith's mother, who died at the age of 73, Clayton said she held off on the adoption process.
More than 60 years later, Clayton, who got the go-ahead from Smith, researched how to make their dream official.
"It took two weeks and I filed with my grandson," Clayton said. "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 June 9, the women went down to Dallas County Court, where they legally became mother and daughter.
"She has always been my daughter and has always called me mother," Clayton said. "We are very close. She has children and I've always been granny to them."
"I guess when I got older I needed to put the rest of the puzzle together -- for me and for her also, of course," she added. "She [Smith] was the only piece missing."