Efforts are under way in Oklahoma to find a home for Liberian-born sisters

31 January 2011

Efforts are under way in Oklahoma to find a home for Liberian-born sisters

At least three people have expressed an interest in adopting the four girls adopted by Ardee and Penny Tyler from a Liberian orphanage in 2005. The Tylers relinquished custody of the girls after a lengthy court battle and felony convictions for child abuse.


Published: January 31, 2011

FAIRVIEW — Four sisters adopted from a Liberian orphanage are orphans again, but not for long.

Efforts are under way to secure a permanent home for the four girls, ages 17 to 5, whose adoptive parents relinquished legal rights to them in December after a lengthy court battle.


Mary, Bindu, Mahawa and Fatu have been in two separate foster homes since April when a judge ruled they should be separated from their parents, Ardee and Penny Tyler, of Fairview. The Tylers were convicted in February of abusing a fifth-adopted daughter, the second-oldest of the sisters. Their natural son was convicted of molesting the fifth girl, who now lives in Illinois.

A hearing is planned in February for child welfare services to update Associate District Judge Mike Warren on the welfare of the girls and progress made in finding them new parents. Warren, who hails from Harmon County, was assigned to the controversial child welfare case after a different judge ruled the Tylers could keep the girls and prompted the state attorney general to intervene.

Penny Tyler said their visits with the girls were severed in September and they’ve not been allowed to speak with them. She declined to say much more.

“If I thought there was a chance that it would bring our girls back, I would talk about it,” Penny Tyler said. “It’s beyond that. They know we love them.”

Potential parents

Some think the girls should live with other Liberian-Americans.

A Liberia-born brother and sister from Oklahoma City want to adopt the children, said the Rev. Tabe Brownell.

Brownell is a Liberian-born minister in Oklahoma City who has closely followed the legal battles involving the girls, and been an advocate for them.

Brownell said the families are undergoing home inspections through the state Department of Human Services. If they’re chosen, the girls would be split into two households, but would live less than a mile apart and would attend the same schools and church.

“I think it would be better for them to be with people who understand their culture,” Brownell said. “This is not to say all Liberian children should be with Liberian families, but in this case I believe it is best because these children have been through so much.”

Melvin Johnson, an Atlanta attorney who represented the girls in the child welfare case, said he also thinks they should be placed with a Liberian family.

Johnson also hails from Liberia.

“It’s really important for them to know where they came from and be proud of it,” Johnson said. “When they were with the Tylers I don’t think they were allowed to express that.”

The girl at the center of the abuse case has been living in Illinois with a cousin of Penny Tyler.

Barbara Johnson said she and her husband are in the process of adopting the girl, now 15, and already are licensed foster parents. She said she wants the sisters to stay together and would be willing to adopt all of them.

“That is what their natural father wanted was for them to stay together,” Johnson said. “This whole thing has ripped them apart and it’s time that they start rebuilding a relationship with their sister here.”

Johnson said the Tylers turned the four girls against their sister in Illinois, convincing them she’s evil and caused the breakup of their family. The girl has been writing her sisters in Oklahoma for the past two years without any response, she said.

Adoption process

There are 1,141 children in Oklahoma foster homes available for adoption. Of those children available for adoption, 306 don’t have potential parents yet, said Sheree Powell, spokeswomen for the state Department of Human Services.

She said 87 percent of the children adopted last year were adopted by their foster families.

Powell said child welfare workers specializing in adoptions do their best to find a good match for children who need permanent homes. She can’t comment specifically on the Tyler case, because cases involving children are confidential. She said relatives of adoptable children usually are considered first.

Powell said they do their best to try to keep children connected with their biological families, community and culture.

Children have a say in who adopts them.

“We’re not going to place a child in an adoptive situation against their will,” Powell said.

Read more: http://newsok.com/efforts-are-under-way-in-oklahoma-to-find-a-home-for-liberian-born-sisters/article/3536892#ixzz1CbEKP9fg