Letter to Laura Bush by foster child ends with White House visit

Christmas dinner at the White House was an unexpected reward for Eagle Point foster parents Bill and Joan Fiedler. The 2007 invitation from First Lady Laura Bush was the grand finale to a two-year span caring for "Alice" a Therapeutic Foster Child.
In 2005, the Fiedlers who had no children of their own became foster parents after seeing an advertisement on television. They chose a therapeutic child because they liked the idea of the two-year commitment these children require. (A therapeutic child is one with too many issues for regular foster care, said the Fiedlers.)

Before Alice came to the Fiedlers there had been no structure in her
life. She did not bathe, brush her teeth, flush and she had behavioral
issues. In one temper tantrum, she lay on the tile floor and dug out
the grout with a knife. There were many other instances of
destructiveness also. "The first three months were tough," stressed
Because of neglect, Alice had been without food many
times in her young life. One day, the Fiedlers noticed a rotting smell
in Alice’s room. Behind the dresser, they found a foot high pile of old
rice and chicken. Alice hoarded food just in case the hard times
returned. It was heartbreaking, said the Fiedlers.
guidance from therapists for both Alice and themselves, Alice began to
come around. She learned to be respectful and she learned values
through a reward system for good behavior.  "She blossomed," said Joan.
of the Fiedlers most heart-warming moments was when Alice turned seven.
Her eyes glowed when she saw the first birthday cake anyone had ever
made for her. It was all the reward the Fiedlers could want, said Bill.
it came to reading, however, Alice did not know how and did not want to
learn. Her spelling was terrible, said the Fiedlers. Bill, the fun
figure in the family according to Joan, wrote a total of 16 books about
"Princess Alice" and the family pet, "Boxer the Battle Cat." The
illustrated books sparked her into spelling, said Bill.
night Alice and Bill were watching television where Laura Bush was
shown reading books to children. Bill explained that even the
president’s wife read to children. About six months later, Alice who
was then in a reading club said, "Do you think the president lady would
be proud of me now?"
Bill decided to write to the first
lady about Alice, he said. That spring, Laura Bush sent a package with
a hand-signed letter saying how proud she was of Alice. The package
included signed photographs, copies of historical documents such as the
Declaration of Independence and stickers with youthful expressions
stressing the positive.
Then unexpectedly in November, an
invitation came in the mail for the Christmas dinner at the White
House. And the Fiedlers, including new (biological) baby Juliana, found
themselves dining with about 400 senators, governors and other
dignitaries. The Fiedlers were the only "regular" people there, they
When it was time to meet President and Mrs. Bush,
the Fiedlers admit they were nervous. Once the meeting took place,
however, the Bushes were so friendly and gracious, the Fiedlers relaxed
and thoroughly enjoyed the 15 minute visit. They felt honored to have
been invited to the White House, said Joan.
For more
information on foster parenting call 776-6120 Ext. 264 or the Rogue
Family Center, White City, 864-8710. (Prior to the dinner, Alice was
adopted by an Oregon family.)
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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