LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - With more than 5,000 children and teens in foster care in the state, the Department of Human Services is urging families to act.

If they can’t get the kids back with their birth parents, DHS says the next best option is a relative. THV11's Erika Ferrando sat down with one woman who adopted her cousin's children and hopes others will do the same.

In the Burke home, it seems like your typical family. But in fact, this family is anything but ordinary.

“It’s a journey and something I would not take back,” said Sha Burke, “I would not take it back."

Burke has two grown daughters of her own, Maddie and Mallory, both are deaf. “Now that Chloe wears dresses, Maddie wants to shop for dresses and that’s exciting to me," said Burke, as she does sign language.

Chloe and CJ are only five and three and while they are just as much a part of the family, they're adopted. "They’re my little cousins and now they’re my son and my daughter," Burke explained.

In 2014, Chloe was in foster care and CJ was just a few months old. Their biological mother, Sha's cousin, called her for help.

"She said I need a family member to take them,” Burke explained, “and I said what do I need to do? I was quickened by the Lord’s voice."

Credit: KTHV

Burke quickly signed up for classes and learned all she could about foster care by asking questions.

"It was a big decision and it took a lot of prayer and perseverance and I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do." Burke had no hesitation to make it official and adopt them as her own. "I didn’t want to see them split up."

Burke said she’s proud of her cousin because she stepped up. “She signed her rights and said I still have some things I need to take care of and I want my children to go to my cousin.”

Now this family is getting even bigger as Burke is engaged to be married to a man with two kids of his own. She calls it an answered prayer.

“I asked him to send a man that would love me like he loves the Lord,” said Burke, “and he did and that’s the only father that Chloe and CJ know."

She hopes her story can encourage others in her shoes to take the step and keep kids in the family. Burke explained, "it’s very important if you can keep them in the family some kind of way."

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