Meet our Executive Director:
Sarah knows all too well about the issue of abandonment ⎯ for her it is personal because her son Elijah was dropped off on her doorstep at age three. Sarah and her husband Joel became one-in-five in the state of Colorado to take sole custody of a non-blood relative.
Sarah Koeppen is the Executive Director/Founder of The Hope Box.
Sarah is married and has five children. Sarah’s journey began years ago when a young child was dropped off at her front door. She studied the law and eventually was able to secure sole custody of the child. Her experiences over the years have given her an expert level of knowledge on issues of abandonment and child services. Sarah is a public speaker, child advocate, and expert on the issues of the abandonment of babies, and works diligently to fight against sex trafficking of infants. Sarah was instrumental in amending the Georgia safe haven law (House Bill 391) in 2017.
A little more history
Joel and Sarah Koeppen were married in 2000 and had four children by 2006. Early in their marriage, they felt a call to strengthen families in their community. They began doing this by mentoring other families—encouraging and helping them to thrive rather than just survive.
Some of these families were met through DFAC. They were families in crisis. Sarah and Joel would meet with them regularly to model a healthy family dynamic. They would come to the Koeppen’s home for a family meal, attend church with the Koeppens, and the Koeppens would work with them to improve the health of their families.
Fast forward to 2009 when Sarah began to feel the Lord moving on her heart about adoption. This wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time the Lord spoke clearly to Sarah that they would adopt a son. The Koeppens began to pray about what to do because they were not actively pursuing adoption. Just two weeks later, a woman at church approached Sarah and said, “You don't know this but my daughter was going to ask you and Joel to take in my grandson. Then she changed her mind. Well, he is now 3 years old and she is asking if you would still be willing to take him?”
Sarah gave her number to the woman and quickly received a call from the mother. Almost as quickly, the young woman brought the toddler to the Koeppen’s home. He was so excited to see the kids playing in the driveway that he ran right up to them ready to play. She handed Sarah a small suitcase, a bike, and his car seat and she turned and waved goodbye to him. He just waved at her as she left.
The next day Sarah called DFACS for an advocate for the young mother and her child, as well as for their family. DFACS came out and said there was nothing they could do because the young woman left her child at a safe place and that was not illegal.
Sarah began studying state and national adoption and abandonment laws. She scoured the laws to learn the ins and outs. She discovered that guardianship afforded no rights to the guardians and so the Koeppens fought for sole custody of the young boy. They became one of five families in Colorado to be awarded sole custody of a non-blood relative. People in similar situations began to seek Sarah out to help them with custody issues and Sarah soon became an expert on the issue of infant abandonment.
It was then that the Lord gave Sarah the vision for THE HOPE BOX, but it was put on hold because of a family change. Joel felt led to become a chiropractor and so the family moved to the great state of Georgia. The first year in Georgia, Joel and the kids went to school and Sarah enjoyed being a stay-at-home Mom.
One day, a friend came for coffee and began to ask Sarah about her dreams and she shared her heart to end infant abandonment and her vision for THE HOPE BOX. Her friend encouraged Sarah to start THE HOPE BOX now and they began to discuss what was necessary to make the dream a reality. In 2014, THE HOPE BOX opened its doors with the mission to rescue and assist at-risk babies ages three and under. THE HOPE BOX vision is to eliminate infant abandonment, neglect, and abuse and to help infants connect with forever families where they can be physically, spiritually, and emotionally nurtured.
In four short years, the framework has been put in place to make THE HOPE BOX vision a reality. We hope you will take some time to browse our website to learn more about the issues specific to infant abandonment in Georgia, as well as the solution THE HOPE BOX offers.