Spokane woman, 92, adopts former foster child, now 71

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YAKIMA — At the age of 92, Maryon Jones is living proof you're never too old to adopt a child -- even if that child is not a kid anymore.

Earlier this year, on a whim of pure inspiration, Jones legally adopted Trilby Shirley, who is now 71 but has been an honorary member of the Jones family since she was taken under their collective wing as a 17-year-old foster child.

On Saturday, the Jones family gathered together at Maryon's home near Yakima's Kissell Park for the first time since Trilby officially joined the clan. The mood was very light.

They played Kings in the Corner and other card games. They took pictures and tried not to step on the dogs. They broke open some wine and popped some beers.

And through it all, the aging and aged tried to explain to strangers how it came to be that someone so old could adopt someone so, ahem, not young.

"It all started when I was 17," says Trilby.

Actually, it started when she was orphaned at the age of 2. She was adopted by an older couple who both died by the time she was 12. Eventually, she became the ward of her adopted mother's half sister.

The arrangement was not a happy one for Trilby, and by the time she was 17 and graduated from high school, she was ready to set out on her own.

The only problem is that Washington law in the 1950s required her to have a legal guardian until she was 21.

Employed at an insurance company in Seattle, she bought a used 1941 Hudson. But her guardian wouldn't sign to let her get a driver's license.

That's when Maryon Jones came into the picture.

Trilby had been a classmate of Maryon's daughter, Georgia, and they were still friends. Maryon graciously agreed to become her new guardian.

"My aunt cut me loose, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me," says Trilby.

That was 54 years ago, and the guardianship expired long ago. Even so, Trilby kept in touch. She had no real family to speak of, and the Jones family graciously and gracefully accepted her as one of their own.

She was there for holidays and reunions and get-togethers and tragedies.

And they were there for her, too.

Now living in Wallowa, Ore., with her husband of 25 years, Rich Shirley, Trilby says she was stunned during a visit to Yakima earlier this year when Maryon handed her some paperwork and asked her to fill it out.

"I took it out of the manila envelope and saw it was for an adoption," she says. "I asked her, 'Who are you adopting?' and she said, 'You!'"

That was back in March, and no longer is Trilby Shirley an unofficial member of the Jones family.

Now she's official. Now she's legit.

Maryon says she should have done it a long time ago.

"It just never occurred to me to adopt. … We should have done it a long time ago. I'm just glad it's not too late."