'sMothered' Mother-Daughter Duo Marcia and Alena 'Laugh' at People Who Think Their Tight Bond Is 'Strange' (Exclusive)

For sMothered's new mother-daughter pair Marcia and Alena, puppy dog licks in the morning and extra kisses aren't "strange," they're just a testament to how much they love each other. sMothered, which follows six over-the-top and extremely close mothers and daughters, returns to TLC on Sunday, May 24 — but before Marcia and Alena make their big debut, the duo opened up to PopCulture.com about their "strong bond" and how it's different from a "dysfunctional" family relationship.

Having adopted Alena, now 21, from an orphanage in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Marcia told PopCulture she always knew her daughter was meant to be part of her family. Having lost her mother soon before adopting her daughter, Marcia explains, "I believed that Alena was the ultimate gift from my mother. It was destiny and we were meant to be together. ... Who could be closer than that — a match made in heaven, a gift from my mother!"

The two may raise eyebrows with their morning ritual, in which Marcia pretends to be a puppy dog and licks Alena's face, but the two shake off any criticism of their love for one another. "We laugh!" Marcia said when asked about people who think they have a strange relationship. "We don't have a strange bond. However, we do have a strong bond. Having fun and acting silly at appropriate time is just between us."

With Alena just completing her undergraduate studies at Quinnipiac University and embarking on a professional singing career, Marcia assures that aside from their private time, both she and her daughter are "serious people." She and her daughter have always been "honest and open" with one another, especially when Alena was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease, MPS VI, for which she had to receive weekly infusions. Marcia recalls before the first infusion in 2005, when her little girl asked what would happen if she didn't receive the infusions, she candidly responded, "You'll die." Alena pondered her mom's straightforward answer for a moment before agreeing to undergo the procedure.

"This is an example of what is so great in our relationship. I have empowered her since she was a little girl and she trusted me," Marcia told PopCulture. "We talk things out no matter how difficult. In the end, she makes her own decisions and fortunately I have been a great role model."

Alena added, "I want others to know that even when times get difficult, you have to stand strong and never give up in life." Explaining that while she might have almost died, with a "second chance" at life, she wants to give back to others with her voice and by shining as her true self on stage and on television. "And my favorite part is that my mama is right there to cheer me on," she told PopCulture.

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With five other mothers and daughters on sMothered with their own interesting dynamic, Marcia noted that she and her daughter think there are some "odd" relationships out there, especially the ones in which the two seem "very enmeshed." She noted, "There is a difference between 'odd' and 'dysfunctional.' Odd can work as long as there are boundaries, respect and understanding amongst all parties. When that line is crossed, they are no longer odd but dysfunctional and a threat to having a healthy family relationship."

For more of Marcia and Alena's life together as a mother-daughter team, don't miss the season premiere of sMothered, airing on TLC on Sunday, May 24 at 10 p.m. ET. For more from PopCulture on TLC's latest programming, click here.