Placement brings joy to girl, parents
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 19, 2012
2/19/12 at 7:29 AM
Related Story: Finding foster families
It was a meeting at the Oklahoma City Zoo that changed the life of Karrington, who had been bouncing around in placements as a foster child since age 8.
While Karrington was looking for a home, Adam and Natasha Perryman were looking to expand their family.
The couple approached the Oklahoma Department of Human Services intending to adopt an older child to join their household, which included two children adopted separately from Vietnam.
They began by looking through DHS files listing children who needed permanent homes. The children had their relationships severed from their biological families because of abuse and neglect.
"We were shocked to see Karrington only had six placements in five years in foster care," said Natasha Perryman. "We were seeing children with 40 or more placements."
After the couple arranged to meet the 12-year-old at the zoo, they became convinced she needed to be with them.
"You just can't walk away," said Perryman. "Every time we prayed about it, we just knew. We could have said no, but deep down God would not let us say no. God kept saying do the hard thing. We knew this was our child."
While in foster care, Karrington fell behind in school, often being promoted in grades she had not mastered, her mom says. Even though she was in the seventh grade, testing showed her skill level ranged between the second and sixth grades.
"Working hard to accomplish something was not a part of her life for 12 years, so it is a daily struggle even after being in our home for 18 months," Perryman said.
Karrington also faced childhood obesity, with food and movies being her "closest companions," her mom said.
After being placed in the Perryman home, Karrington lost 45 pounds and grew six inches. She eats healthier food and exercises at least twice a week.
In a video about her experience, Karrington, who is black and American Indian, recalls her first impressions of the family.
"When I saw Adam, who is now my dad ... he's so white, and my mom, Natasha, is totally the opposite with dark hair and darker skin," she said. "Then I saw Avi Joy and Nehemiah and noticed they weren't Caucasian, they were Vietnamese.
"As I spent the day with them, they were really strict so I didn't know if I would like them. But then I started crying because I really wanted them to be my family."
Karrington, now 13, said she had a hard time adjusting to normal family activities, like playing in the yard or eating together.
"When I first came to the family, I felt like I was being suffocated. We did everything together, and I didn't like it. ... It was hard staying with my family and obeying my family because I never obeyed anybody."
After nine months, she wanted to go back to foster care because it "was easier," went on a "lying streak and shut down," her mom said.
"She didn't understand what family was really supposed to be like and just gave up," Perryman said. "We gave her consistent love, never giving up. We knew she was worth redeeming, and God is helping heal her."
From the beginning, the family has been participating in counseling and has been active in The Church at Battle Creek, which they joined specifically for its focus on supporting adoptive and foster families.
"Now, I like being with my family," Karrington said. "It's a good relationship. We've had our ups and downs just like any family. I love them."
Karrington officially became a Perryman last July with a different outlook for her future.
"I make A's and B's, I accepted Christ, I am physically healthy, bonded with my family, have parents to raise me and love me, I am truthful and mature and try hard to succeed in all that I do," she said. "I've been transformed by love. I am beautiful, and I am adopted."
Ginnie Graham 918-581-8376
Karrington Perryman, 13, talks with her mom, Natasha Perryman, at their home. Karrington, who was in DHS care, has been adopted by the Perrymans. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World