Sunday, November 14, 2010


This weekend started just like any other. But as of 1pm today our lives have been changed forever.

About a year ago Jenn and I attended an adoption fair in downtown CLT. We sat in a seminar where a couple was sharing about their journey to adopt a baby boy from Las Vegas, NV. They spoke of the long, agonizing wait they had in LV before the paperwork cleared and they were allowed to return home. I thought to myself, 'agonizing'?? I leaned over to Jenn and said "Um, I think God is calling us to adopt from Las Vegas too!" :)

Friday night Jenn and I ditched the kids for a quiet dinner together followed by a surprise party for a friend. We hadn't been out in a while, and I wanted a goooood meal. So it was when she suggested fondue that I about threw-up in my mouth. Seriously? Months without a date night and you want melted cheese?? I'll go to my grave believing that my willingness to speak her love language and stomach fondue is the cause of what happened next.

As we sat and stared into the bowl of boiling broth, Jenn checked her Blackberry only to find an email about a new adoption case opportunity that matched our interests exactly (newborn: bi-racial + female). The catch was that this was a BOG or baby-on-ground: a premie born at 33 weeks in where else but Las Vegas, NV. I immediately asked for a bigger glass of wine.

After a late stop into the surprise party and 3 hours of email exchanges with our adoption consultant on the west coast, we had our paperwork submitted for consideration and were in bed by 2am. After the boys flag football game Saturday morning, our lunch had barely digested when we learned the NV agency was going to formally recommend us to the birthmom.

If being stuck in Vegas is 'agonizing' then the last 24 hours were inhumane torture. At church today I spoke to 1st-5th graders about how God created each of us for a unique purpose. All I wanted to know is if we would have a role in this specific baby girl's purpose. The minute I sat down at home after church I opened this laptop and our answer awaited.


So we're headed to LV, and after a few days at grandpa Stewart's house the boys will join us. We'll update you once we're settled. Our little one is expected to be in the NICU for a min. of 2 more weeks, so our Thanksgiving buffet is sure to be at the local hotel/casino and all-you-can-eat. Good thing too, as we have A LOT to be thankful for.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bonsai Trees

Doug here. Over the past month Jenn and I have each found ourselves (more than once) in that place of painful disorientation when trying to make difficult decisions for what happen to be very good causes. The dilemas are something like (a) make the rational choice, vs. (b) hand the large unknowns to God and act on faith (specifically when we don’t get an uber-clear answer to prayer). For me the pain is equivalent to being flogged with Clay Aiken playing overhead. I hate it. My perfect world is an open-book multiple choice test.

But then I say to myself ‘a monkey could do it that way’. And I’m right. So then I say to myself ‘boy I wish I had an ounce of discernment in me’. And I forget God made me with personality type ENFP for a reason. So then I start to say to myself ‘If God would just answer…’ but then I stop because, well, He hasn’t.

So then I arrive at that place of painful disorientation. A station in life that means I’m being worked on, pruned, enhanced – and God is Mr. Miyagi. All I want Him to do is finish up the work with the shears, douse me with water, and place me where I’m supposed to go. But no, I stay on that work bench for hours…days…and He does a little bit of work whenever He feels like it.

Something inside me needs to learn to like the table, and the shears. Last month the table for Jenn and I was adoption, and the shears were a specific opportunity presented to us in Oklahoma City. After a few weeks of good sunlight God picked us up, put us on the table, and started pruning A LOT of places we thought looked just fine to begin with. So the pile on the floor was not the outcome we expected, and our new look was unfamiliar in an uncomfortable way.

In the end, after getting no more familiar and no more comfortable, we had to make a decision. It may have been somewhat rational, and we didn't throw a ton of risk at God, but we decided to put our faith in Him that our princess is still out there somewhere else. So we wait...which for those of you who follow Jung know how painful that is for an ENFP.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Have you ever embarrassed yourself?

I'm not talking about falling down in front of a crowd, or having to do the chicken dance at a wedding. I'm talking about finding yourself doing something that, unbenonced to anyone else, makes you feel embarrassed (maybe even sorry) for yourself?

This weekend we ventured to Knoxville to attend our niece's first dance recital. Growing up with an extended family absent of any females my age, this was a personal first for me. Let's just say that going in I was far from bullish about the event. I tried not to think about it the week prior so as to not depress myself.

After the first 30 minutes I was thoroughly enjoying myself, and by the end of the night I may have been having more fun than anyone there. I was embarrassed - for myself. I mean seriously. A dance recital? I wasn't about to tell anyone how much fun I was having for fear of letting anyone else in on the embarrassment.

I'm pathetic. My cheeks are still red. But I'll tell you what, I'm a lot more ready to adopt a girl than I thought I was a week ago. DP

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What do Consultants and Preschool Graduation have in common?

Until last week I figured nothing at all. Turns out, both will take 1.5 hours of your time to give you 90% of what you already know, and maybe rouse some emotions along the way.

We had our kickoff meeting with our adoption consultant last week, a very sweet & long-winded mother of both a biological daughter and adopted son. She has devoted her life to doing what she loves - talking - mostly about adoption, but could also probably win a contest for rabbit-trailblazing / tangent creation. I am now fully versed in the adoption process, am a little spooked about the mischief birthmoms tend to get in to, and know more about scrapbooking than I ever cared to (we have to make a family portfolio).

Then 2 days later I attended our oldest son's "graduation" from preschool. Who knew they made little blue caps & gowns that small? Brought back fond memories of my days glued to The Smurfs, but I digress. You see, like a consultant does, preschool graduation also 'borrows your watch to tell you what time it is', but unlike consultants, this engagement is not optional but mandatory. They haul parents into a gym so they can borrow your kid, put them up on stage, and have them recite a song or prayer that the child has already worn you down with for months at home. However, like a consulting engagement this too was very emotionally charged and sure to bring about some short-run positive change around Poppen Inc.

If I wanted someone to use up my time to show me something I'm already aware of, I would've just hired a consultant.

By: Doug Poppen

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Finding Purpose Through Payment

Last week we paid our first adoption-related expense: several thousand dollars for a ‘consultancy’ to guide us through the entire adoption process and expose us to dozens of adoption agencies, and birth mothers, all over the country. Not a required expense to adopt in the U.S., this fee essentially enables us to find a child that meets our criteria more quickly and with fewer headaches, and allows us to sleep better at night knowing we have addressed all considerations involved and not overlooked anything. I’ve been feeling somewhat guilty or ashamed that we are spending what God has blessed us with to simply make life easier for ourselves or stack the deck in our favor. We don’t ‘need’ to adopt, nor do we ‘need’ these conveniences per se.

But in a conversation with the agency owner a few days ago God spoke to me through her twice. First he reminded me that, given our current station in life and our strengths & weaknesses, this is a wise investment and there is no shame in assuring we don’t make a big mistake along the road.

Second he has used this agency to open a window to an opportunity that may resolve my ongoing desire to use my professional skills and spiritual gifts for a greater good. You see there are many people like Jenn and I that want to adopt, or worse have to adopt, but the financial expenses involved in such an endeavor can be crippling. Why isn’t there a service for people like this, or for others who encounter an unexpected life-giving (fertility, invitro, etc.) or life-taking (cancer, disease, etc.) event, to lean on when financial resources become obstacles? What if there were ‘personal cause fundraising consultants’ who helped people engage their network (who are yearning to help anyways) in structured support of their needs? Hmmm...

By: Doug Poppen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We're Adopting!....and we do NOT mean a dog.

We are 0-2 adopting dogs.

Our first was in 2002 from a posh rescue operation in the heart of San Diego's richest neighborhood - we should've known that Lhasa-Shih Tzu mix was going to be too high maintenance. It could never get enough attention (we were newlyweds, we had priorities), and the night he bit Jenn on the leg and about 2 inches from infant Cameron's resting head, we had to find her a new home.

Our second is still with us, but I don't think all the face-licking in the world could get her out of the doghouse she's built for herself (sorry, couldn't resist). This puggle barks like a beagle and sheds like a pug. We could've just got one of those, and cut our issues in half...but no, apparently we enjoy excess noise AND routine furniture baths.

As bad as Lexi is, our sons Cam and Ty, 4 & 3, love her (that makes 2 of us). I mean LOVE her. Together they cuddle, run, wrestle, and go mouth-to-mouth every night before the lights go out. She is their little baby girl. And while watching this relationship blossom over the past year or two, I have realized - I need a little baby girl. Jenn's been planting the seed for years (who can blame her, waaaaaaay too much testosterone in this house), watering it occasionally, but only recently has it grown roots.

For 2 reasons. The first is that ever since my brother passed away in 2005, my desire to experience new things in life has been increasing exponentially. I've never been super-close to anyone who had a sprouting sister or daughter I could relate to or cared much about. I want that experience in my life. The second is the fact that I am an extremely sub-par human being and, with the exception of a few brilliant moments of average, am a complete moron. I might be the most selfish, materialistic, needy, attention-seeking excuse for a son/husband/dad on the planet. Just ask me. But, I am just just just barely smart enough to know that if I can put a mechanism in my life to remind me 100x a day how good I have it, and how bad off many others are comparatively, I might just be able to make something of this life.

So, we're adopting.

Not sure from where. Not sure when. But we ARE sure that we desire to change the trajectory of a child's life for the better. And while we may not go seek out the most challenging scenario available, I am certain that I want, I need, someone in my life that reminds me how rich we really are, and that it is only by the grace of God that I have anything more than this shirt on my back.