The facts I am about to share with you are not the kind that are going to give you the “warm and fuzzies.” In fact, they may do the opposite. They may make your stomach churn. But they are true, and they are real, and they involve the lives of actual babies.
- “In 2017 alone, 478 infants were abandoned in Georgia, the second highest rate after California with 774 abandonments.”
- “Every day in Georgia there are 33 infants abused, abandoned, or neglected.”
“In 2014 a national report indicated 24.4/ 1000 children were victimized under the age of one – highest ranking in all age groups.”
(Statistics can be found on http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/datasources.html, http://www.childstats.gov/, https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/statistics/wellbeing/ and http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/child-care-data-resources.)
These babies are discarded in the trash, neglected by those who are supposed to care for them, and sold for sexual exploitation. It is a sad, hard truth to swallow. The only good news about these statistics is that there are people using their time, their talents, and their life’s purpose to change them. One of these amazing people is Sarah Koeppen, the director of The Hope Box, which is a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing at-risk babies.
This morning I had the privilege of sitting down with Sarah. Through many pauses to let blaring train horns pass, we sat outside at our local coffee shop, and talked about everything from changing laws, to the foster care crisis, to fundraising and wishing we could just get all of the “high rollers” to support this amazing ministry! Sarah is a spunky Colorado girl, who is the definition of a go-getter. Seriously, this girl makes things happen in order to protect at-risk babies, and it is truly inspiring.
But how did she get here??
It is personal for Sarah. In 2009, her now son, was left on her doorstep (read the full story here). Her and her family obviously took him in and cared for him, but because of this crazy circumstance, she began researching all about adoption and abandonment laws. Through her findings, she was compelled to do something, and that is where the vision for The Hope Box was birthed. Now she does everything from training people, to connecting mothers of infants with families willing to adopt their baby, so that the child does not end up neglected, to working with legislators. Sarah jokes and says, “My husband was busy going back to school, and I got bored, so I changed a law.” But it’s not just a joke – she really did change a law! In fact, she single-handedly changed the Safe Haven law. The Safe Haven law used to say that women had seven days after a child was born to leave them at only a hospital, and they had to give their information. This law prevented many women from leaving their baby in a safe place, and they instead left them in unsafe places, without care. Now the law says that a woman has 30 days after a baby is born to leave them at a hospital, fire station, or police station, and she does not have to give any information. This change has saved babies lives! And did I mention she got it changed in just one legislative session? That is unheard of! I wasn’t playing when I said Sarah is a go-getter!!
But she is also just a normal human being like you and me. She has a husband. She has five children to care for. She has a home to keep up. She has had to deal with the grief of her mother passing away this summer. Yet, she is also SAVING AND CHANGING LIVES. And it’s not because she has super powers – that would make it easy. It is because she saw the issue. She learned about what was happening, and she was not content to idly sit by and let it continue to happen. This morning she said that many people think “Oh, we’re in America, nothing like that would happen here.” But that is simply not true. She has seen it firsthand, and now she is going to do whatever she can to change it.
Now listen, I get it. Not everyone is going to rescue babies. Not everyone is going to fight to change legislation. Not everyone is going to start a nonprofit.
But we do all have some part to play in this world where so much hurt and so much injustice occurs.
We all, as believers, have a responsibility to do something when we see or hear about people who need love, who need care, who need help. To quote the songwriter, Brooke Fraser:
Now that I have seen, I am responsible.
Faith without deeds is dead.
Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let you go.
So what about you? What is God calling you to be “responsible” for? We would love to hear how He is using you to change the lives of those around you!
Striving to live in God’s bigger picture,
*** If learning about the issue of infant abandonment has pulled on your heartstrings, please visit thehopebox.org to learn more about how to get involved or donate to the cause!