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‘A Place To Call Home:’ How two Oklahomans went from a boys home to college together 

OKLAHOMA - 10,000 Oklahoma children are currently in foster care.

And, we may never know the impact the experience will have on their lives.

But, one family is on a mission to take in the children who have suffered the most - and offer them hope.

Dylon and Johnnie are roommates at the University of Central Oklahoma, but it's not their first time to live together.

They were taken to White Fields Boys Home when they were just 11 and 12.

"I didn't expect to stay here very long. It was just another stop in my head,” Dylon said.

Johnnie, who was just a toddler when he was taken from his home, had been through dozens of placements while in DHS custody.

He expected White Fields would be the same.

"I went into it, like Dylon, thinking I wasn't going to be here for very long, you know, like another stop, but here I am. I stayed here for like six years. It's the longest placement I've ever been at,” Johnnie said.

The mission of White Fields is to provide a stable home in an unstable world, a safe place for children who've been abused or neglected.

"They don't have any family. They don't have mom and dad. Their parental rights have been terminated because of the abuse and neglect, and they've exhausted all kinship placements so, when they come to us, there's literally nowhere else for them to turn," said Executive Director of White Fields Frank Alberson. "The extent of abuse, the extent of neglect has left them learning some horrible behaviors and some horrible memories that all come together, and they just cannot function in a family environment."

The Ward family opened White Fields 10 years ago.

Yes, that Ward family - Tom Ward, best known as one of Oklahoma's most successful oil tycoons.

"A highly traumatized child needs stability, and we offer that. Now, they don't have usually, they don't stay until their 18. They're adopted out, or they get into a more permanent foster home after they've had a point of healing," Tom said.

At the boys home, there are six cottages, a recreation area, classrooms for trauma-based therapy - even homes for foster parents.

Each child has his own mentor.

For Dylon, it ended up being his art teacher.

“I actually painted these. I was really excited about them,” Dylon said.

Art is what sparked Dylon's interest in college.

Now, he's studying to be a theater teacher.

"I wanted to learn about teaching other people because that kind of changed my life, getting involved in my school and getting involved in theater and being able to be a part in the plays and productions we put on," Dylon said.

But, the biggest benefit could be the length of time a child can stay at White Fields.

It’s something that isn't the case for most children in DHS custody.

"There was one child that had 53 placements in over a two year time period,” Ward said.

There, the boys can stay as long as they need to heal.

Alberson empathizes with the kids.

"I was born in New York City, and my mother was a heroin addict, and my father was an alcoholic. For the first six years of my life, I was abused and neglected,” he said.

It wasn't until his mother put him on a radiator, burning 70 percent of his body, he got away.

"I was bounced around for the rest of my teen years. Through foster homes, shelters, group homes and finally got court ordered into a military boarding school where I did graduate."

Alberson took out student loans to go to college.

There, he met someone who would change his life.

"It was kind of a God thing. I got accepted the next day, and I went to college a few weeks later, and I met a kid from Oklahoma who is my across the hall mate."

Alberson met Tom 's son, Trent Ward.

They became friends, almost family after he spent a Christmas in Oklahoma.

“I came out, and that family gave me the best Christmas that I had ever had," Alberson said.

Little did he know, that was only the beginning.

“I loaded up and drove out there for the summer, and they told me they wanted to adopt, and I was like 'No, I don't know if you're ready for this because a lot of people have done this.'"

At 18, Alberson was officially welcomed into the Ward family.

"All of a sudden, here I am going on family vacations, being in family pictures, all the things that I never had a chance to do."

"He needed some help, and we grew up in small towns in western Oklahoma, and you just help people who come into your life,” Tom said.

Alberson’s adoption sparked a desire to help others, which led to White Fields.

And, now, the Wards provide the foundation on which dozens of children will build a strong future.

“If we didn't help them, then the rest of us, we're all going to be taking care of them either on welfare or in prison or in the mental health system for the rest of our lives," Alberson said.

And, remember Dylon's best friend, Johnnie?

He spent 10 years at White Fields.

Now, he's studying forensic science.

He hopes to be an FBI agent.

With a bright future ahead, he has no regrets about his past.

"Don't be ashamed of where you came from. Have pride in it. Know that you've been through stuff a lot of people haven't been through, and you're a lot stronger for it."

As for Dylon, he was adopted last year at age 19 by a foster family who lived at White Fields, proving once again - it's never too late to find 'A Place To Call Home.'

White Fields is a non profit, and they are always looking for donations and volunteers.

To help them out, visit

'A Place to Call Home' is sponsored by NBC Oklahoma.