A day doesn't go by where Gina Pearson and her biological brother, Keith DuPree, don't talk. If they're not meeting up on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey, they're texting or chatting on the phone.
This wasn't always the case, though. In fact, it's been 18 years since they lived together with their mom and two older siblings in Runnemede, New Jersey.
In 1997, they were placed in different foster homes, and by 2001, their parents lost custody following allegations of neglect, and their other siblings had left home as well.
Over the years, both Gina, 24, and Keith, 23, hopped from different foster care families, and their paths crossed briefly in two homes.
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"I thought about Keith all the time when we were apart," Gina told TODAY.com. "I wondered how he was doing in school, if he was going to graduate, who his friends were or if he was dating. I was surrounded by all these unknowns and wanted to know so badly."
When Keith was adopted by an elderly woman from Vineland, New Jersey, in 2005, Gina, who has lived in more than 30 foster homes, came to his adoption party with her newly adopted family, who lived about 45 minutes away in Haddon Township.
"It was awkward when Gina's new family showed up because my family was African-American and hers was Caucasian," Keith told TODAY.com. "We also hadn't seen each other in a while and both felt weird."
It wasn't until 2011 that they connected — and stayed connected to this day. Gina, who was attending Rutgers-Camden at the time, messaged Keith via Facebook to invite him to an event she was going to be singing at on his campus in New Brunswick.
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"I knew he had just started out at Rutgers because we were Facebook friends, so I was so excited about the possibility of seeing him," Gina said. "When he arrived, we ran into each other's arms and stayed there for a long time. Then we started cracking jokes like we were 7 years old again."
Gina ended up transferring to New Brunswick's campus and is currently in grad school there pursuing a degree in social work, while Keith is studying environmental and business economics.
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"I can't tell you how great it feels to finally have family," Keith said. "We're so connected and can talk about everything from our failures to dreams and aspirations."
"He's my best friend and go-to person for anything," Gina said. "I've never had that before because I always struggled with trust issues from my past experiences, but I knew he'd understand on a different level whatever it was because he was my brother."