Steven Curtis Chapman, wife share how trip to Haiti inspired them to adopt kids from China

The Chapman Family
Contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth speaking at the multi-day Evangelicals for Life event held at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia on Thursday, January 17, 2019. |

Contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, shared how a journey to Haiti led them to adopt children from China.

The Chapmans were interviewed by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Evangelicals for Life event in Virginia Thursday.

Mary Beth talked about how they were inspired to adopt after she and her then 11-year-old daughter, Emily, took a mission trip to Haiti in 1997 through Compassion International.

“It was one of the first times she and I had gone to a Third World country to see the extreme need all across the country. She came back with this burning desire to make a difference,” Mary Beth recalled.

“[She said] ‘Mom, we are so blessed here in the United States, what would it look like? We have room at our table’ — this is an 11-year-old — ‘we have room at our table. Why would we not change the life for one of these children?’”

Although Steven was supportive of the idea, Mary Beth noted that she was hesitant at first, but explained that “God did begin to change my heart a little bit at a time.”

Steven and Mary Beth both talked about how passionate Emily was for them to adopt, with her leaving letters on their pillows about the issue.

Mary Beth explained that their focus shifted from Haiti to China when they began working toward adoption with Bethany Christian Services.

“At the time in the late '90s, early 2000s, they had a really strong program in the country of China,” Mary Beth said.

The Chapmans adopted three children from China, the process of which Steven attributed to a mixture of “Emily and her determination” as well as “what God does and how He shows up.”

“What we found out in our case and over and over we hear this story that the laughter of God, the delight when we show up in these places and that God is inviting us in to that,” Steven said.

Moore, himself an adoptive parent, talked with them about the challenges of adoption and how while initially he used to spend a good deal of time trying to persuade people to adopt, “now I find myself doing as much persuading” couples not to adopt.

“Look, God’s not called everybody to adoption,” Moore warned, “If you think this is easy or if you think this is somehow going to fix your marriage or whatever it is, that’s not what the child is for.”

Moore described adoption as “a hard thing that is worth it.” The Chapmans agreed, with Mary Beth calling adoption “gloriously hard.”

“Maybe some of you in the audience today, you stepped into adoption, you really felt like ‘love is enough,” Mary Beth said.

“And, ultimately, love is enough, but we think that it’s going to go well … [but] it wasn’t enough for us just to say, ‘we’re going to help you with your adoption.’ Because these special circumstances with children from hard places, children that have indeed suffered some trauma, really need much more than that.”

The Chapmans also talked about their charity “Show Hope,” which was founded in 2003 and is based in Franklin, Tennessee, with the goal of providing assistance to adoptive families.

The Chapmans’ remarks came as part of the annual multiday Evangelicals for Life event, which was held at McLean Bible Church’s Vienna, Virginia, campus Jan. 16-18.

“The Bible tells us that every human being has dignity and worth. From the tiniest unborn life to the elderly at the end of life, from immigrants and refugees to those trafficked against their will, all life is precious to God,” stated the event’s website.

“Imagine what it would look like for Christians to come alongside the most vulnerable and to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.”

In addition to the Chapmans, other scheduled speakers included: SBC President J.D. Greear; McLean Bible Church Pastor David Platt; Makazi Institute President and co-founder Karen Ellis; former Obama campaign staffer Michael Wear; World Relief’s Advocacy and Policy Vice President Jenny Yang; Anacostia River Church Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile; and ERLC Director of Policy Studies Andrew Walker.

The multiday event was being held in conjunction with the annual March for Life, a pro-life demonstration at National Mall that takes place on or around the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade.

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