CLINTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sisters Kaylyn and Aubrey Pope were recently adopted by their great aunt and uncle, and they are thankful to be celebrating the holidays with them.
Kaylyn, 14, and Aubrey, 8, live with their adopted parents in Sampson County, 1.5 hours south of Durham where they were once homeless and eventually landed in foster care.
Last year the girls were officially adopted by their great aunt and uncle Kathy and Arnold Pope.
Kaylyn officially changed her middle name to Grace to honor her new found faith and gratitude.
"I'm just thankful for Gran and Pop because they've been through a lot with us," Kaylyn said. "I'm just thankful that they got to take us in."
According to the Popes, the girls' parents suffered from substance abuse. Their father recently died from his addiction.
In 2018, the retired couple started the process of kinship fostering through Durham Social Services, becoming parents to school-aged children all over again. This time while they were in their mid 60s.
"We had to do it. I just thought we had to do it," Arnold Pope said. "They're family."
"It was a long journey. It was grueling and tough, but they were placed with us," Kathy Pope said. "We are very lucky that they have adjusted as well as they have."
It's been a shift for the Popes too.
"A lot different than raising boys," Arnold said.
"The necklaces, the jewelry, the finger nails, the haircuts, the hairdos the drama," Kathy joked.
Aubrey calls her great aunt and uncle mom and pop. She describe the experience being with them in a word: "Good."
According to statewide data from the Management Assistance for Child Welfare, Work First, and Food & Nutrition Services in North Carolina, In September 2021 an estimated 11,585 children were in foster care; an average of 16,652 children were in care of the state during the period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.