FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Hope for Shaohannah

with Emily Chapman, Steven Curtis Chapman | November 17, 2006
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Today on the broadcast, best-selling author Dennis Rainey continues talking with Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his daughter, Emily, about the Chapmans' decision to adopt first one, then two, and eventually three baby girls from China. Hear more about Steven's adoption ministry, Shaohannah's Hope.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, best-selling author Dennis Rainey continues talking with Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his daughter, Emily, about the Chapmans' decision to adopt first one, then two, and eventually three baby girls from China. Hear more about Steven's adoption ministry, Shaohannah's Hope.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Hear about Steven Curtis Chapman adoption ministry, Shaohannah’s Hope.

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Hope for Shaohannah

With Emily Chapman, Steven Curtis...more
November 17, 2006
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Mary Beth: You know, my heart's just beating 100 miles a minute, and I thought, "Okay, this is it, this is it, I can do this, I can do this," and I walked out into the hallway, and there she was, and I just remember it was so emotional.

Bob: There is another Chapman who will never forget that day.  In fact, it was Emily Chapman who had first planted the seeds of adoption and then watered them.  She was in China, too.  She remembers the day a little differently.

Emily: We finally got to the hotel where they were going to bring Shoaey to us, and Mom and Dad said, "Okay, you and Caleb will stay in this hotel room, and when we hear the baby come, we're going to go out and spend the first few minutes, and then we'll call you guys out.  "Okay, that's fair."  Well, then we heard the little elevator ring – "The baby is here."

 And so Mom and Dad went out in the hallway and met Shaohannah, and we sat in the room and kept sitting in the room, and we're, like, "Helloooo."

Steven: Waiting for the invitation to come out.

Emily: And so, finally, Will Franklin, the comic one of all of us, he goes, "Hey, can we come out there yet?"  And Mom, "Oh, yeah, sorry.  You came all the way to China, I guess you can come out here and see your new sister."

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 17th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We will hear today how the Chapman family grew and grew and grew.  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  You know what I feel like this week?  I feel a little bit like a farmer in the spring time, because I feel like we have been sowing seed all this week, and I …

Dennis: It's going to be a while until we see the harvest.

Bob: I'm looking here and going, "Do you think any of this is going to come up?  Do you think the crop is going to grow?  Do you think" …

Dennis: I am very expectant, Bob, that God is going to use the seeds that have been sown by us, by Focus on the Family, by Steven Curtis Chapman and his ministry called Shaohannah's Hope – all the Christian community joining together to make a united statement on behalf of the helpless, on behalf of the orphan.

 I think it is going to result in – well, perhaps the largest effort ever on behalf of the orphan in the history of the church, and I say that having looked at what the church has done in times past.  There have been the orphan trains that were among some of the early efforts here in America to address needs of orphans.  We've always had orphans with us, and there's always been needs, but there's never been the size of the need we have today that demands the action of the Christian community.

Bob: You know, for some families, the response to this orphan crisis has been to open up their homes, to bring a child into their home to adopt a child either domestically or internationally, and we have, joining us this week on FamilyLife Today, Steven Curtis Chapman, who is probably better known for the 9 million CDs he's sold than he is as an adoptive dad.

Dennis: And the five Grammys.

Bob: That's right, but we also have Steven's daughter, Emily, joining us.  She is a student at Baylor University and was the instigator behind the Chapman's first adoption, and we've been hearing about that story this week, and we want to welcome both you guys back to FamilyLife Today.

 Steven, it was after a banquet where you were singing for an adoption agency that Emily, who had been lobbying your wife to consider adoption, she came home loaded up with materials that your wife had promised to read, and that was a turning point in your family's history, wasn't it?

Steven: Well, it had been a – I mean – that night at the adoption agency banquet, Emily was with me and, yeah, I think Mom was running scared.  She had a soccer banquet or something, you know, for the boys, but it was, I think, her way, too, of saying "I'm not getting anywhere near this because Emily's working this thing over."

 So that night at the agency banquet, one of the ladies walked up to me and just said, you know, "Emily said she's been working you guys over here about adoption, and she's asked for some material and, just as a side note, you know, if you guys really do pray or think about this, your wife is open to it at all, think about China, because there are just millions of babies there, little girls needing a home, young, you know, infants. 

 So that was kind of the information.  We brought a lot home, but I said, you know, they mentioned China specifically.  And Mary Beth said, you know, "I saw a program on television years ago and cried, sitting in my bed watching "20/20" or "60 Minutes," or one of those, about orphans in China, and she said I thought even then, "Boy, if I could ever open my home and heart to that idea, I would love to take one of those little girls."

 And so that was already a little seed planted years earlier.  So that was, I think, when that information came home.  But Emily had read from the international adoption book that she had bought, that China had certain limitations.  And so Mary Beth had already checked that mentally off in her mind, like, "Whew, good, I'm off the hook," because you can't have more than two children in the home already.

 And I said, "Well, they know our family situation, and they suggested China.  They know how many kids we have, and yet she still suggested it.  Should I check just to see?"  And she said, "You know what?  You can check, yeah, that's fine.  You can make a phone call, and then I can tell Emily, 'You know what?  We checked on it, at least I did open my heart that much, but God shut the door.  See?  So, okay, are you good now?  We checked on it, God shut the door, let's move on.'"

 I called and said, "Is it true that you cannot have more than two kids in your home?  Because we had three kids, so that would be a stopper for us.  And they said, "You know, that was true until a month ago, but China just changed their law.  They just changed their regulations." 

Dennis: Emily is over here smiling.

Steven: Oh, yeah, she's, like, doing the high five, you know, thank you.  And so they said, "Yes, you can have up to four kids in the home.  And then Mary Beth said, "Okay, last thing – I need a blond-haired, blue-eyed baby from China if I'm going to do this."  She was, like, looking for any – she said, "All right, it's got to be blond hair and blue eyes, got any of those?"  And, you know, of course, she was, at that point, knowing, man, this is not good.  This is going downhill fast for me.

Bob: What were you thinking when the wall was starting to crumble here?

Emily: Finally.

Bob: Of course, they had to change laws in China to get this to work for you.

Emily: Right, right.  I had made a few phone calls, you know.

Steven: I still haven't figured how she got that deal worked out.

Dennis: Yeah, yeah, that's exactly right.  Now, at that point, you're, what, 12 or 13?

Emily: Oh, seventh grade – yeah, 13.

Bob: And from 13 until Shaohannah came home, was two years – did it take that long?

Steven: It was a year.

Emily: It was a year, mm-hm.

Bob: To be in the process and to get everything worked out and bring Shaohannah home?

Emily: Mm-hm.

Bob: And you thought, when Shaohannah came home, "We've done it, that's it."

Dennis: Well, now, wait, before you go there, Bob.  I want to ask Emily – take us to the place where you first met Shaohannah.

Emily: Oh, this is a fun story.  We were in China, and we were in the hotel room, and Mom was a nervous wreck the whole day, and she's, like, freaking out.  "What have I gotten myself into?"  And just so nervous, and we finally got to the hotel where they were going to bring Shaoey to us, and Mom and Dad said, "Okay, you and Caleb will stay in this hotel room, and when we hear the baby come, we're going to go out and spend the first few minutes, and then we'll call you guys out.

 "Okay, that's fair."  Well, then we heard the little elevator ring – "The baby is here."                And so Mom and Dad went out in the hallway and met Shaohannah, and we sat in the room and kept sitting in the room, and then after that whole emotional meeting, me and Caleb and Will were still in the hotel room, and we're, like, "Helloooo." 

Steven: Waiting for the invitation to come out.

Emily: And so, finally, Will Franklin, the comic one of all of us, he goes, "Hey, can we come out there yet?"  And Mom, "Oh, yeah, sorry.  You came all the way to China, I guess you can come out here and see your new sister."

Dennis: Okay, so you walk out there …

Emily: And so we walked out, and it was so emotional.  I mean, just – when you pray for so long about something so passionately, and you're in middle school, and for that to come true, it was so cool, and I was so happy, and we just, obviously enjoy – we still enjoy Shaohannah, but we enjoy Shaohannah, enjoyed that time with her, then the tables turned, and Mom was, like, we've got to go back to China and get another baby.  And my dad was, like, "Ooooh, I don't know about this."  And about probably a year after we had Shaoey, I started praying, and then about a week later God changed Dad's heart, and then told us we were going to go adopt again.  That's a whole 'nother story, then we went back to China and got Stevey Joy.

Bob: And a third time for Maria?

Emily: Well, then, the third time, which was funny, the tables turned yet another time, and it was everybody was on board except for me, which was …

Dennis: Wait a second.

Emily: Yeah, and that's what people ask me.  They're, like, "Well, you were always on board.  Was there ever a time where you were scared?"  And I was, like, "Actually, I have a confession, there was."  I was a senior in high school, and Dad had presented the idea of adopting Maria, and I was excited but, at the same time, very much not so supportive because I was a senior in high school, and I was getting ready to go to college, and she would come home the summer before I went to college, and I'd be that evil sister she never knew, and I wouldn't be able to love her as much because I wouldn't know her, and all pretty much the same things as my Mom, just from a sister's perspective.

 And a lot of it, too, I mean, it was selfish, but also I was worried for Mom, because I knew – because I was so close to my mom, and so I knew her struggles, and I knew how hard Shaoey and Stevey had been just because – just reverting back to diaper stage and baby food and potty training and all that stuff.  We didn't, at that point, didn't know if there was going to be any, like, babysitter in the picture, and so I was like …

Bob: You saw all the practical reasons why this didn't make sense.

Emily: And I was, like, this is – Mom will go off the deep end if we do this because there is no way you can do that unless you're going to have a serious support system.  And so I started praying about it, and God really convicted me, even – I really did get excited about it, but even in the beginning stages, I just went to Dad, and I was, like, you know, obviously, in the Bible it says, one of the Ten Commandments, "Honor your father and mother," and as a spiritual leader of this household, if you really feel like God has called us to this, then I'm going to support you in that, because that's my calling, you know?  As a child, I’m called to honor you, and I'm called to honor that call that you've heard from God.  And so I said, "All right, you've heard from God, then let's go forward in this, and I'll get excited about it, and it will be confirmed, and I'll have a peace about it, and I, sure enough, did.

Bob: May all children follow in your footsteps forever and ever.

Dennis: I'm looking over here – yeah, isn't that the truth?  I'm looking over here at Steven and Dad over here is going, "Yes."  You know, it really is a joy to see our children do well.  Emily, I've got one more question for you.

Emily: All right?

Dennis: Are you going to adopt when you get married?

Emily: Oh, yes, sir.  It's not a question – it's so funny, because all my friends are, like, "Well, I want two girls and three boys," and I'm, like, "Well, I want two from Africa and three from China" – it's like not boys and girls, it's like – and me and Caleb and Will, we sit around, you know, we're like, "So how many are going to come from what country?"  You know, it's not ever a question of boys and girls, it's always how many are you going to adopt and what color and where are they going to come from?"  It's so fun.

Dennis: I really hadn't thought about this, but with all the tens of millions of orphans worldwide, and it's estimated by UNICEF there's around 35 million to 40 million or so right now.  It could be, Steven, that our generation will not be the major labor force to provide homes and families for these children who have none, but it will be the next generation – it will be the Emilys and my daughter, Ashley, and Laura and Rebecca and Deborah and our sons, as well, to be able to address, literally, tens of millions who need a home.

Bob: On your last Christmas record, you wrote a song about Christmas and about adoption.  Tell us about the song, "All I Really Want."

Steven: Well, I can't, now, after all of this story, you know, of God showing up and, really, it was probably the second adoption, and it was Stevey Joy coming into our family that God began to really reveal more about His heart for orphans and His heart for adoption to me as not let's do this because this is our responsibility, our job, it's our duty.  God's checking off the list, going, 'Did you do the things I told you to do or I'm really going to be disappointed in you.'" 

 I began to realize whenever we open that book called the Bible and see God say, "Careful, orphans, visit the sick, go to the prisoners, clothe the naked, feed the hungry," God's saying, "I want to show up.  I want you to know Me, and this is where I am, and if you want to know Me, this is where you're going to find Me."

 And so it's this invitation to come and know Him.  So that's become just woven into everything that I do creatively, artistically, as our family what I do as a singer/songwriter.  And so Christmastime I thought, you know, there's 50-plus million orphans in the world that while most kids are dreaming about an XBox or an iPod, there's millions of kids in the world that are just dreaming of a family, a home, somebody to tuck them in every night and know they're going to be here 10 years from now and 20 years from now and be a part of their life and have memories with them.  While we're all getting together celebrating memories as a family, there are children that don't have a family to make those memories or remember those memories with.

 And that was a heavy thing on my heart, and so I thought, you know, I can't let a Christmas get by without singing a song for those kids and, hopefully, in a way to stir the hearts of those that hear it to say, "Hey, I don't want to miss out on being a part of their miracle.  Maybe I can be a part of that."

Bob: Would you mind – you've got your guitar here – would you mind singing that song for us?

Steven: I will be happy to attempt it, anyway.  Will you sing backup vocals for me?

Bob: No.  Okay, we'll keep the listeners [inaudible].

Steven: All right, all right. 

[Steven sings "All I Really Want"]

Bob: It was fun to listen to that, but it was fun to watch Emily listen to that.  You're a Steven Curtis Chapman fan, aren't you?

Emily: A little bit.

Bob: Do you buy his albums and listen to them?

Emily: I buy your music off of iTunes.

Steven: She's got the hookups.  You do?  Wow.

Emily: Well, sometimes …

Steven: I'm sure I pay for it.

Emily: I just want to hear a song, so I just download in onto iTunes.  I pay 99 cents.

Steven: Very good.

Dennis: Emily, as I was listening to your dad there, that song is worth a whole lot more than 99 cents, because it's talking about what 143 million children around the world long for – a family and the power of a family.

 And, you know, Jesus said if one of His sheep is lost, He leaves the 99 and goes in search of that lost sheep to bring it back in the fold, and I just wonder if it's time for the Christian community to take the power of a family to the world and to go to these children who don't have homes and maybe adopt some, maybe provide orphan care for others, perhaps start an orphan ministry in your local church or ask your church to start an orphan care and adoption ministry.

Bob: And not everyone is called to adopt, right?

Dennis: That's right.  I don't believe adoption is for everybody.  Certainly what the Chapmans have done is tremendous, but you can't say what another family should do or ought to do.  But I do think all of us as Christians, as followers of Christ, have to practice pure religion, and James, chapter 1, verse 27 says, "This is pure and undefiled religion – that we visit the orphan and the widow in their distress; that we go help the helpless."

Bob: As you said, there are millions of children who are in need of help, and not all of us can adopt or should adopt or will adopt.  That's not the only solution for these children, but there will be families who will do what Steven and Mary Beth Chapman have done – they will open their homes and their hearts, and they will invite a child or children to come in and become a part of a forever family.

 Our team here at FamilyLife has put together resources designed to help couples who want to consider the possibility of adoption; to pray through that; to see whether that's something God would have them do.  You go to our website,, and in the middle of the home page, there's a red button that says "Go," and if you click that button, it will take you to a page where there is more information about the new Homebuilders study called "Considering Adoption."

 There is also a booklet that you can download as a PDF file, or we can send you a copy.  It's called "Welcome Home, Eight Steps to Adoption."  So, for a family that really wants to consider this, we spell out the steps you can go through to get you from where you are today to the place where you can open your home to an adoptive child.

 Again, our website is  Click the red button that says "Go" in the middle of the screen.  When you get to that page, you'll also find a link to the Voice of the Orphan website – that's, and there are a number of resources available on that site as well to help you think about how you can respond to the needs of the orphan around the world, whether it's by adoption or by some other means.

 Again, the organization is called Voice of the Orphan.  The website is, and there's a link to their website on our website at

 Once again, I want to say a word of thanks this week to those folks, those individuals, families, who have helped support the ministry of FamilyLife in past months.  You have helped make not only this week's series of programs about adoption possible, but you make all of what we do at FamilyLife possible, and we want to say thanks for your financial support of this ministry. 

 We also want to encourage those of you who are regular listeners, maybe you've never made a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  Can we ask you to consider a donation of any amount to this ministry as a way of showing your support for what God is doing through the work of FamilyLife Today?  You can donate on our website at

 Well, I hope you have a great weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday.  We're going to meet a pastor from the Dallas area, Brian Carter and his wife, Stephanie, and we're going to hear about a very exciting project that Brian led their church through not long ago – a month-long project that made a powerful difference in the lives of many of the families in that congregation.  We'll hear about it beginning on Monday.  I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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