Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
What could be better than an Ethiopian welcome, FOVC style?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Election '08: Who Knew?

Check out this link for fascinating and late-breaking election news.

You're gonna be inspired and amazed!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Today's appointment at Children's Hospital went fine. I will schedule an x-ray (upper GI, barium swallow) for the next week or so. If that doesn't find anything, Amelia will need to have an endoscopy. If that doesn't find anything, then I guess we go with the "it's an incredibly bad case of reflux" theory and hope she starts to outgrow it.

In the meantime, we'll stick with frequent small feedings, and increase the formula-to-water ratio in order to give Meels a few more calories.

Did you notice the fade-to-fall look on the blog? Now that school has started, summer is as good as gone. So let's get on with the next season!

Back to Children's Hospital today

Amelia and I will spend the day at Children's again today. The GI department was good to get us in so quickly. I'm a bit anxious to go without Dave, but we'll be fine, I'm sure. Mostly, I just want Amelia to be ok and to thrive.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Scary Day

Yesterday morning, we discovered Amelia--her whole body, and everything in her crib--covered with diarrhea and vomit. I cleaned her up and fed her a bit. And she gushed it all right back out.

After a quick call to our doctor, Dave and I took Amelia to Children's Hospital in Denver. Where we spent about 11 hours in the emergency department. They had to try a few times to insert an IV, and she had to have a catheter, too. Poor little thing!

The doctors ended up deciding that, in addition to whatever the underlying feeding problem is, she has a virus. We have spent the last many hours giving her teaspoon amounts of pedialyte, and she has kept it all down.

We'll try a bit of formula later this morning.

We're going to try to switch to the GI Department at Children's this week, too, now that she has a pile of records there.

On a happier note, all of Amelia's labs (blood and urine) looked good. (They are still investigating the overflowing poopy diaper we took with us.) We are thankful she is a healthy girl. But it's time to figure out why she can't keep food down and gain weight!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Amelia's adoption announcement

Here is Amelia's adoption announcement. I looked all over, and eventually found a site with the cutest announcements ever ( I love how they turned out!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We went to the doctor again today....

....and to our surprise, little Amelia has not been gaining weight, but instead, has lost weight. I was shocked, because she eats and eats and eats. (She still spits up and spits up and spits up, however.) She's basically down to her just-came-home weight of a bit over 10 pounds.

We are trying a more powerful medicine (Prevacid) and a more expensive formula (Allimentum). And we'll see a pediatric gastroenterologist next week. The doctor says she is stable and not in immediate danger, but she won't gain weight until we figure this out.

We're a bit worried, but not terrified. I have hope that perhaps now we can figure out what's going on: Most importantly, Amelia will get some relief from her occasional pain and frequent up-chucking. (A bit of laundry relief sounds nice, too.)

I can't help but wonder if she had a hard time eating during her months in the orphanage, too. If so, it seems against the odds that she has survived and thrived so far. God must have big and good plans for her.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Too gross not to post

Question: Guess who likes rice cereal
more than Amelia?

Answer: Rosie the kitten!

I know this is too awful. But it's so awful, I had to capture it with my camera. And share it with the world.

Honestly, I'm not a bad mom and we don't live in a sty. Or a zoo. I was getting something from a drawer--between bites of cereal--and Rosie Posey the piggy kitten made her move.

Really, it won't happen again.

Brace face and new school

School started this week! Seventh grade Allison is at Lyons Middle/Senior High School. It's her first time EVER in a public school. It's also her first time EVER to not have to wear uniforms. (Guess which she's more excited about?)

We always expected to send the girls to neighborhood schools by the time they are in high school. Open enrollment will probably come to an end at Lyons as the school becomes more popular. So we took this opportunity to make the move this year. We are excited about the possibilities--for additional coursework, extracurricular options and the chance to play sports at her school. Lyons gets great marks, and we love the fact that it is a small school. It's the perfect transition from Rocky Mountain Christian, where she got such a fantastic start.

The first day of school. Our baby is practically a teen-ager!

What will Amelia do all day without big sisters?

In other news, everyone here between the ages of ten and twelve got braces last week.

Here's Allison's mouth.

(Abby's photos and update will make an appearance when her new backpack/lunchbox FINALLY arrive!....per her request.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

run, Run, RUN!!!!

Who watched the Olympic mens' 10K today? The Ethiopian team took the gold and silver medals. An Ethiopian woman took the gold in the women's 10K. Go, Ethiopia!

The entire Ethiopian Olympic team was staying at the Ghion Hotel while we were there just three weeks ago. It's so fun to recognize the athletes and the coaches from our time in Ethiopia.

We feel like very proud Ethiopians right now!

Dressing Up

The Roddas (Justin and Shawn, parents of Lidya) gave Amelia a darling welcome home onesie (made by our friend Leah, that we have worn (well, Amelia has worn) a few times. However, Miss Amelia has projectile spit-up on it before I could get pictures.

Combine our "Just Arrived From Ethiopia" onesie with the blossom head-ware (or is it "head-wear?") that our friend Jeannine made---and we have ourselves a super-darling girl!

So here, finally, are some pictures.

Getting dressed... (and you can see Nana Howlett is visiting!)
She loves her new onesie!
And doesn't she look cute? (Sorry for the glare.)
(Just overlook the spit-up :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


For those of you waiting for referrals, or waiting to travel, I thought I would post the first pictures of Amelia that we ever received. This first one is her referral picture:

About 4-6 weeks later, we got her medical, which included this photo:

As you can see, she was teeny tiny and sort of pitiful looking. She was too small and probably premature. Our hearts just ached to get her home!

We received several more pictures while we waited to travel...and she typically looked pitiful or sad or like she was in pain. (She didn't start to look more like "herself" until shortly before we traveled.) It was so hard to wait.

I tried to have faith and to trust God, but I must say I struggled with all kinds of fears--realistic and not. Until a person has done an international adoption, I don't think it's possible to understand the love and hope one can have for a child she has never seen or held, who is halfway around the world!

So, I'm posting these "before" pictures today for anyone who is waiting and wondering and trying not to be worrying. I had heard stories about tiny babies, even sick babies, who come home and thrive. And now we have Amelia, who is living proof. Praise God!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Obedience and Joy (and a few pictures, too)

We began this journey to Amelia out of obedience to God. This is not to say that we are super-spiritual or even very successful in our faithfulness. Do we desire to be faithful? Yes! (Well, most of the time....) Do our words and behaviors reflect a heart of faithfulness? Not as often as we would like.

We are works in progress. Do we get it right all of the time? Nope. What I share about my faith life is this: I'm better now than I was. I expect to make forward progress as I grow up in the Lord. Will I ever get it right? Absolutely--when I get to heaven!

Back to the obedience thing: We have always known we would happily welcome another child into our family. Anyone who knows me knows I loooooove babies, and I always wished we could have had more children. But a long list of stuff (like...Dave and I were old, our girls weren't young, I had had a hysterectomy, we were comfortable and busy and content, and we were enjoying a life of relative ease and freedom) made it seem unlikely.

Until God put this idea in our hearts and minds, to do something that didn't make much sense. To pretty much turn our comfy world upside down and invest much time and effort and emotion and love (and money) in traveling to the other side of the world and welcome another daughter to the House of Howlett.

So, our journey to Amelia started from a seed of obedience. But it has absolutely, undoubtedly, overwhelmingly and completely thrillingly ended in so much JOY!

The journey to Amelia is complete. And now, we start on our journey with Amelia. It was only three weeks ago today that we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We're all so in love with this little gal, and it seems like we have known her forever. It's a different kind of joy for each of us, I think, to be a bit older, and to enjoy the beauty of a baby, this happy and sweet gift from God.

Tummy Time 1

Tummy Time 2

Tummy Time 3 (she's gonna roll over!)(And yes, when we have tummy time on the kitchen counter, I'm always right there! And yes, I realize tummy time on the kitchen counter probably needs to end soon...)

First play date with Lidya!

Holding hands with her cute new friend!

Watching the Olympics with Dad...(they have matching heads!)

She's such a happy girl!

The End!

Friday, August 8, 2008


Poor Amelia has been suffering with a case of reflux--we think. She has had a few different formulas, but none of them have offered any reflief. Her symptoms?

Spitting up 50 to 100 times a day. (This is never fun for the laundry woman--that would mostly be me--and is occasionally super un-fun for poor Amelia--I will spare you the graphic details.)

Initially, she cried when she finished a bottle (I thought she was merely sad it was over!), but had progressed (or degressed?) to crying during her meal with unconsolable crying when she was done. So sad!

Dr. Hughes wasn't overly concerned about the spitting up (of course, he has never done her laundry, and the laundry of anyone within spitting distance), but the pain/crying was a concern.

So, we started taking a bit of Zantac (no, not XANAX!!! Although, I have been known to enjoy the occasional xanax during take-off and landing...but I digress) last night. It seems to have helped tremendously, already. It's way more fun to feed a baby girl when she's not struggling and crying and so sad!

On an amazing note, in spite of these feeding issues, Amelia gained 5 whole ounces in the past week. The doctor says good weight gain is half an ounce to an ounce each day. So she's right on track.

There is something to be said about being "older parents," as Dave and I are. It's easier to enjoy the joy and keep the diaper-changing, spit up-wiping kinds of hassles in perspective. Amelia is such a beautiful, sweet and responsive little gal. I think we're all in love.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

For any upcoming travelers...

Here are some thoughts that Dave, my mom and I put together during our layover at the Frankfurt Airport. For anyone who is traveling soon, it might be helpful(?).

Things we’re glad we did…or we wish we had done differently:

Related to the orphanages
For the orphanages—more matchbox cars, more brown skinned baby dolls (the girls call them “mimis”), more blow-up balls, more smallish nerf balls and / or nerf games, soccer balls, volley balls (you can easily and fairly cheaply buy soccer balls at your hotel in Addis).

A portable air pump would be good for the balls, too. You can’t imagine how much time you will spend playing outside games with the children at the orphanages. (There is no inside play area at the orphanages.)

We were glad we had lots of hair clips & headbands, etc. and lots of stickers. (You can’t have too many stickers for these kids!) Bubbles were good, too.

Think in advance what you can do, and what you desire to do in terms of serving the orphans. The orphanages made it clear to us that times are difficult and monetary donations from families are extremely helpful.

In addition to the cost of the adoption and our travel, we had spent a small fortune on items to give to the orphanages, so we weren’t quite expecting the (veiled, mostly) request for money donations, too. We ended up giving financial gifts as well (considerably more than we ever thought we would give), which is what it seems the orphanages most need and want.

It is a joy to play with the children and share small gifts with them. The children are happy and precious, and you will wish you could meet their every need!

For your own children:
If you are getting a baby---it seems most babies are somehow digestively challenged: either they spit up and spit up and spit up, or they poop and poop and poop. Amelia happened to be a profusive and projectile spitter upper. We had enough diapers and wipes, but not enough face cloths. We finally ended up using wipes for every spit up emergency.

In spite of my best planning, we sent many of Amelia’s clothes to the hotel laundry because of all the spitting upping. Hotel laundry was a good thing!

We had an Ergo baby carrier for Amelia. We were very glad to have it. In a perfect world, we would have had a stroller as well, if only for the hotel and airports. The babies are used to spending a great deal of time in their little beds….it took Amelia a couple of days to start to enjoy being held and carried. I think she would have enjoyed our meal times a bit more if she could have kicked around in a stroller versus being held while we big ‘uns ate.

While it would have been nice to have a stroller for Amelia, if you are bringing home a bigger child (too big for a carrier), I think you will definitely appreciate having a stroller. The kids are well-behaved, but there will (obviously) be a bit of a language barrier at first, and pushing your kiddo in a stroller will likely simplify things for everyone. Too, I think most children will like to “ride” in addition to being “carried”—particularly around your hotel and in the airports.

Regarding clothes and the weather:

We had heard the current season is called, “the rainy season.” Ethiopians call this season, “winter.” The weather was not cold for us, but the Ethiopians think it’s freezing! It is chilly and rainy in the mornings and evenings, but most afternoons the weather was sunny, a bit humid, and around 70 degrees. Neither you nor your kids will ever want to wear shorts during this time of year. We big Howletts mostly wore crop pants or long pants, long or short sleeve t-shirts and light jackets. But “native” babies and children think the weather feels cool. Your kids will be most comfortable in long pants, long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts / sweaters / jackets.

Don’t take “good” clothes for yourselves or your new children. Most of the places you will go are dirty, muddy or both. Obviously, we carried Amelia everywhere. But Crocs for the rest of us were by far the best shoe choice….you will walk a lot and stand a lot….in rain, puddles, mud, dirt and rocks.

Regarding the culture and the experience of being in Addis Ababa:

The people in the city were unfailingly polite and helpful. We enjoyed the people. Even at the huge market (we didn’t take Amelia there, and we visited with an escort—don’t go without an escort!), we never felt afraid or threatened in any way.

The city is very busy and colorful. As the week progressed and in spite of the fact we thought we were mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared, we found ourselves a bit exhausted by all of the need and suffering that is everywhere there. It is hard to take it all in. There are tremendous needs and challenges, and it hurts to feel so helpless to make much of a difference.

Don’t count on good internet service, no matter where you are! We were at the Ghion Hotel, where we could access email via their dial-up service. However, we met another American family who were staying at the SHERATON, and they hadn’t even been able to pull up email there.

By the end of our visit, especially, we struggled with a bit of resentment over feeling like we had been “nickeled and dimed” so much (maybe we are less generous people than other families?). We ended up spending about $1500 on gifts to the orphanages and a ministry we met with, tips, taxis and a few gifts for family and friends. The cost of our hotel and meals ARE NOT included in this $1500. We found things to be much more expensive than we expected, and we also found many, many hands outstretched in our direction.

As an example: leaving the airport last night, a man loaded half of our suitcases onto a free cart and rolled it approximately 20 feet to the sidewalk for us. It took a light-to-moderate amount of effort and about 2-3 minutes. Dave gave him 10 birr as a tip, which he rejected, asked for more, and pulled out himself another 10 birr note from Dave’s money.


Post Script:
Now that we have been back at home for a few days, we remember even more powerfully and more fondly our time in Addis. It’s true that financial outflow (and emotion and fatigue, etc., etc.) took something of a toll by the end of our trip. But looking back now, of course we trust that we will recover from the extra expenses, and the people we met don’t have access to anything like the resources that we have here at home. We desire to be generous people, and in the end, we are glad we erred on the side of generosity, and we hope and pray that we were “blessed to be a blessing” to the people we met in Ethiopia.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ethiopia, part III: Children's Heaven

Some of the families in the Boulder/Denver area introduced us to a ministry in Addis Ababa called Children's Heaven ( and its founder, Hanna Fanta. Hanna is an Ethiopian woman who lived in the U.S. for sixteen years before returning to Ethiopia to start Children's Heaven. While we were in Addis, we had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with Hanna and "her girls."

This is Hanna. Doesn't she glow?

Children's Heaven currently serves forty-four at-risk Ethiopian girls ages 9 to 17. The girls are orphaned--some of them live with Hanna, most live with neighbors or extended family. Children's Heaven provides daily mentoring and nurturing, clothes, medical care, tutoring, encouragement and love. Hanna and her team stay in touch with the girls' schools, and they make frequent contact with the girls' homes. Without the love and the safety net that Children's Heaven provides, these sweet girls would be faced with abuse, life on the streets of Addis Ababa or prostitution. The girls have already experienced so much loss in their young lives, and Hanna gives them stability and a mother's love!

The need in Addis Ababa for an organization like Children's Heaven is unlimited. (In fact, there is currently a long waiting list of girls who would love to be part of the ministry.) Hanna's heart is huge and her energy seems to be limitless, too. Unfortunately, resources are very limited, and the Ethiopian government doesn't make it easy for organizations like Children's Heaven to grow. So....please pray for Children's Heaven and the girls served there. Or, consider supporting a girl financially. Or, come to the Boulder/Denver area fundraising auction in early November, where you can meet Hanna and purchase beautiful Ethiopian scarves, textiles and etc. in support of Children's Heaven.)

Even though it's winter break in Addis, here is a group of girls during a math class.

They welcomed us one afternoon with a special program, in fact:

Some of the girls performed a praise dance to a Chris Tomlin song!

A recitation in Amharic.

Every girl stood up and introduced herself in English--and shared where she goes to school and what grade she is in, her favorite subject, sport and hobby, and what she hopes to be when she grows up. It was so moving to see the beautiful hope these girls exhibit....Dave and Grammy and Allison and I were all crying when they finished.

Thanks to contributions to "Change 4 Change," donations from friends and gifts from my hair stylist at Studio Boom, we took enough gifts so every girl got a wrapped package that included a few small gifts. They included all kinds of hair accessories, new underwear, markers, lip gloss, candy, etc. There was also a big suitcase filled with school supplies, messenger bags, DVDs and CDs that Children's Heaven will use in the coming weeks and months. We praise God for the opportunity to share a little love with these girls!

Here is one of the girls after she opened her little package--she's beautiful in her headband, huh?

One of the older girls prepared a coffee ceremony in our honor--our first coffee ceremony!

Here are Hanna and Amelia and all the girls.

Good bye and God bless. We hope to see you again!