The Father’s House is a faith-based organization and place, located at the former Butler County Children’s Home property on South D St. in Hamilton, that helps families of adoptive, foster and kinship care. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

The Father’s House transforms historic Hamilton location to support foster and adoptive families

“A lot of foster parents give up within the first year of doing foster care,” said Jeffery Leon, who in October moved from Kansas City with his wife, Kristina Jones, and three adopted sons to be a part of The Father’s House.

“So what we’re doing is creating a program that encourages connectivity through play,” between the children and adults. “These are what we call Thrive Connectivity groups.”

EARLIER FATHER’S HOUSE STORY: Couple restoring former children’s home for foster, adoptive families

“We want to do one every month, and every one have a different theme, so the first one was our ‘Play-Doh-making theme,’ and part of it is to just share stories, and also, just so people can feel they have a support system out there,” Leon said.

During the play clay activity, everybody gathered in the kitchen of The Father House’s mansion and the children all helped put the clay-making ingredients into pots. Then they took it all out onto the mansion’s front porch, added the food coloring and mixed the ingredients.

“That’s part of the connecting, is doing things together,” Leon said. “There was just a lot of laughing.”

Afterward, the kids played in the playground.

RELATED: Youth in Ohio foster care face more placements, barriers to adulthood

The organization was created to provide support for children and adults in foster, adoption and kinship care situations. Kinship care includes grandparents or relatives other than the biological parents taking over guardianship of children.

Daryl and Roxann Gunnarson have been leading the restoration of the former Butler County Children’s Home property on South D Street, a complex of nearly three acres, as a safe place for families that often face many obstacles. Their non-profit organization called New Oaks Community bought it in 2010.

They hope to provide all services for free to families. They offer the complex to such families for things such as adoption parties, birthday celebrations and other events.

The group recently made thank you cards and cookies for social workers who work for Butler County Child Protective Services.

Leon said they heard that the social workers were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and were stressed out.

“They were in tears,” he said, adding that the organization plans to raise money to create a stress-relief room where they work.

The organization on Saturday, June 22, is inviting two groups to the mansion:

  • From 3-5 p.m. that day, the general public is welcome to the unveiling of an Ohio Historical Marker that will be placed at the site to commemorate the Butler County Children’s Home, which opened on the site 150 years ago in May.
  • After 6 p.m. the same day, New Oaks Community and The Father’s House organizations will welcome “anybody who has lived or worked in the children’s home in the past.”

People at the later event will share a meal and reminisce.

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