Father's Day: ‘The lucky ones’|Perrys recall day they met daughter Melissa

Published 5:47 pm Monday, June 22, 2009

By By Lydia Grimes
Mike Perry and his wife Tammy had been waiting for months for their little girl to arrive, but Melissa took a little time to warm up to her dad.
Eighteen years later, the Perrys are a close-knit family — and they have never forgotten how lucky they were to find each other.
Melissa arrived in Alabama from an orphanage in India, nearly 8,000 miles from her new home.
Melissa’s journey began when her parents began to dream of how to complete their family, which already included son James.
The Perrys decided to adopt a child from India. Adoption sometimes can take a long time, and that turned out to be the case for the Perrys. They were given the number 36 and had to wait until it counted down to number one. Melissa was born in 1990, and it just so happened that the countdown to number one was Melissa.
The Perrys got the word that their child was going to arrive early in 1992, but instead she came a little bit early. They were supposed to travel to Chicago to meet their little girl, but again they were lucky enough to have a volunteer escort Melissa to Birmingham on Dec. 20, 1991.
Melissa had made the trip from Pune, India, which is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra and is located in the western part of India.
She was welcomed into her new home and quickly became a part of the family.
James, her brother, was not too sure about her to begin with, according to her mother, but as they have grown older, they have become very close.
Tammy said that they have often heard the words that Melissa is lucky that she got the home she did, but that is not the way the Perrys see it.
Melissa was this year’s valedictorian at T.R. Miller High School, and she alluded to her adoption in her graduation speech.
Melissa didn’t make it easy on herself, either. Her parents said she has filled every day with school, church and other activities, and has done each of them successfully.
Now that Melissa has graduated from high school, she is planning her future as a nurse. She said she hopes to get her master’s degree in nursing and someday be able to teach.
She has made another big step toward her future, too. Within the last month she has become engaged to her long-time boyfriend, James Hamric, who is now attending Jefferson Davis Community College, and working toward a degree in accounting. Melissa will join him at JDCC and then they will both transfer to the University of West Florida to continue their education.
Melissa’s parents said that both she and James are goal-oriented and level-headed and will wait until they are through with college to marry.