In 2005, Penny saw an advertisement for the West African Children’s Support Network, an adoption agency-African orphanage searching for American families to pair with Liberian children. She soon learned the group was looking for a home for sisters whose mother had died giving birth to the youngest only months before. "I cried when I heard their story, and then I was told they might be split up,” Penny said. "Ardee and I decided right away, we wouldn’t let that happen.” Round trip airfare from Oklahoma to Liberia was more than $14,000. Adoption fees paid to the African government were $30,000. There also were costs for a home study and adoption legal fees in the United States. To finance the endeavor, they tapped into savings and were assisted by fellow church members at the Mennonite Brethren Church in their hometown of Fairview. Three months after Penny Tyler responded to the magazine ad, the Tylers were in Liberia picking up their daughters.
The Tylers stayed two weeks while the government processed their adoption paperwork. Fatu was practically a newborn and Bindu was a toddler. Mary, the oldest, was 11 and Mahawa was 6. The fifth, and second-oldest girl, was 8. "From the moment we got there, they were in our care,” Ardee Tyler said. Penny Tyler said the girls’ natural father, James Andrews, was excited his daughters would be living in the United States.
The Tylers moved to Oklahoma about five years before and built a spacious, 5-bedroom log cabin. The grounds include an above-ground swimming pool, gardens and a large workshop where Ardee, a carpenter, works. The Tylers raise livestock for meat and can vegetables from their garden. They have chickens for fresh eggs and a dairy cow for milk. Penny Tyler homeschools the children. She said the girls were undernourished and suffered from exposure to lead paint in Africa. Along with learning disabilities, they were academically behind other children.