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Sisters’ adoptive Oklahoma family reflects

BY ANN KELLEY Modified: April 11, 2010 at 12:15 am •  Published: April 11, 2010

/> The Tylers say they soon learned the girls had emotional problems. Little by little, the older girls started telling stories of events they witnessed in Liberia.

They also learned their girls had undergone a tribal initiation that left them scarred, he said.

The girls were acting out, and the Tylers were at a loss with how to deal it.

"They told us nothing at the adoption agency of their history,” Penny Tyler said.

Mary and their second-oldest daughter needed psychiatric help. There were no juvenile mental health centers in Oklahoma specializing in the girls’ problems, Ardee Tyler said.

The abuse
Ardee and Penny Tyler have admitted to the things they were convicted of doing.


The girl was tied to a bedpost and slept outside. She also went three days without food. The Tylers admit it sounds extreme. However, circumstances aren’t as they seem, Ardee Tyler said.

He said the girl was tied to a bed with a tie from a bathrobe and could have easily untied herself.

Ardee Tyler said she slept on the back porch of their home for one night after she purposely urinated on the floor during a tantrum. He said she was dressed in warm clothes and given a sleeping bag.

"I hardly slept that night, because I kept getting up to check on her,” Ardee Tyler said.

Penny Tyler said the girl asked to try fasting after hearing about it in a church sermon.

The Tylers say they are remorseful for their behavior and that of their natural children.

Ashton Tyler, 21, was convicted of molesting the girl. Last month, he began a two-year prison sentence for the offense from when he was 15 and the victim was 9.

Nathania Tyler, 20, was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery, and given a six-month suspended sentence.

"Nathania lost her temper and hit her, but there was a lot of tension and stress in our house then,” Penny Tyler said.The Tylers don’t have much to say about their son, other than he made a grave mistake and shouldn’t be punished the rest of his life for it.

Allegations surface
The Tylers say they struggled privately.


"We weren’t ashamed,” Ardee Tyler said. "We thought we were protecting our girls by not telling anyone about their behaviors or past in Liberia.”

Penny said trouble erupted when she dismissed fellow church member Janice Wichert from helping her home school.

She said Wichert was the sounding board for her second-oldest adopted daughter.

"She was telling her things like I beat her with a rake or a baseball bat,” Penny Tyler said. "That never happened.”

They sent the second-oldest daughter to stay with Penny’s cousin, Barbara Johnson, in Illinois, after learning of a mental health center there that could help her, Penny Tyler said.

Not long after she left, a child welfare worker from the state Department of Human Services was at their door, she said.

DHS intervenes
Penny Tyler said DHS has been their biggest advocate. She said once or twice a week since the case opened a child welfare worker has visited.


The family has been to counseling , she said.

Ardee Tyler said Major County Assistant District Attorney Tim Hayworth assured them they wouldn’t lose their children if they cooperated with DHS.

The case continues
After a two-year battle, the Tylers thought on March 29 their legal troubles were behind them.


Associate District Judge Vinson Barefoot closed the child welfare case, allowing the children to remain with the Tylers.

The couple’s criminal case was concluded nearly two months before. Penny Tyler had finished her 60 days in the county jail.

Their son is in the county jail awaiting transfer to a state prison.

The daughter that made allegations is being adopted by Barbara Johnson.

The child welfare case has been reopened at the request of state Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Major County District Attorney Hollis Thorp.

"We are a family and we’re going to do whatever it takes to stay together,” Ardee Tyler said. "We’ve said that all along and we mean it.”

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