Being a part of Show Hope … it’s part of my DNA. This is just who we are.” Emily Chapman (now Richards) experienced her parents’ overwhelming joy when they brought each of her three sisters home from China. She didn’t just witness the joy as a supportive on-looker, she shared in the joy! Shaoey, Stevey, and Maria exemplified big blessings, covered in big prayer, with special stories, fulfilling God-given dreams.
Oddly enough, the idea of adding family members from across the world was prompted by Emily herself. A young girl, persistent and compassionate towards children from all countries and in all circumstances, Emily prodded and poked until her parents “gave in” to the idea of adoption. And just like that, adoption became a part of who the Chapman family is today.
Throughout the course of several years, with three incredibly unique stories, their family had gained a trio of lively, vivacious, and spirited little ones. Full of wonder and filled with challenges, their Chinese siblings were finally home.
After Emily’s parents’ first adoption, they began to take note of the endless number of families they knew who longed to adopt but were not able to afford the up-front costs associated with adoption fees. This began a passion in them that would soon come to define their lives.
Five years after their youngest daughter’s homecoming, the Chapmans’ lives took an unimaginable turn. On the verge of a graduation celebration and a newly announced engagement, unexpected and deep tragedy struck. In May of 2008, the youngest daughter, Maria, passed after a devastating accident. Their hearts were broken as they mourned their loss. Sorrow filled their typically joyous home, and the path to move forward was unfamiliar.
A divine appointment originally led the Chapmans to adopt Maria, a true delight. She is remembered as playful and spunky. With a personality that was larger than life, the Chapmans will always remember her life as being amazingly full.
“This is our story. We can steward the one we’ve been given or waste it,” she said, with a sense of gratitude, in a way. She recalls watching her father visit Larry King Live and other various TV shows and news outlets to discuss the tragedy. All eyes were on them. Coming off years of roaring success in the Christian music scene, the Chapmans’ life was not necessarily private. People were watching what they would say, how they would cope, and what they would do. They painfully and humbly spoke out about Maria’s death. They were transparent and yet, filled with an appropriate amount of hope. Emily’s dad Steven Curtis did not miss this opportunity to present Christ’s promise of an eternal joy found in Him alone.
“Watching my dad say, ‘I don’t know why this happened, but I trust that we’ll know God more deeply because of it…’ was freeing,” Emily said.“My parents gave us the necessary room to grieve. They gave us freedom to feel pain. It was powerful. I’m thankful to have seen that honesty in them.”
Through the paralyzing pain and senseless confusion, a faint glimmer of the Gospel still shined through. Some days were brighter than others — but at the end of each day, that faint glimmer was what eased them to sleep, woke them each morning, and finally, what helped them steward this story they’d been given. A story of love that knows no borders and most importantly, a story of HOPE.
Since the death of Maria, Emily’s mother Mary Beth wrote a book called Choosing to See. She tackles issues of depression, loss, and choosing to see God’s light in the presence of darkness. The book, released in the fall of 2010, immediately found itself on bestseller lists of all kinds — including those of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Appearing on Good Morning America and other shows such as FOX and Friends, Mary Beth boldly and obediently shared her story for the world to hear.
Emily is one of six Chapman siblings. She finished her education and had her first child in Northern Ireland. She and her husband are now back in Franklin, Tennessee enjoying the convenience of family and the sweet moments of parenthood.
Her parents shepherd and love her and her siblings well, even today. Now that Emily is a mom herself, she sees her mother’s grief from a much more complete perspective. “I am a mom now. So I feel as if I can sympathize with my mom and grieve with her a little more wholly now.”
Her father, Steven Curtis Chapman, is a five-time Grammy awarded, multi-platinum recording artist, songwriter, and entertainer who swept the Christian music scene with irresistibly catchy tunes like “Live Out Loud” and “Dive.” Steven’s album “Beauty Will Rise,” his songs “Meant to Be,” and “re:creation” are all dedicated to Maria’s memory.
Not About Them
But even with the very public tragedy, musical success, and best-selling book, the Chapmans have managed to make little of themselves and much of God’s great purpose for their story. They’ve chosen to point to Christ. Through allowing God to use their story to reach others, they’ve experienced great coverage of their organization, Show Hope.
Originally called Shaohannah’s Hope, after their first adopted daughter Shoahannah Hope Yan Chapman, Show Hope was started in 2003 when a desire deep inside Mary Beth and Steven Curtis’ heart to see more children adopted began to flourish. Based out of Franklin, Tennessee, a vision for adoption and orphan care began to evolve. “Many families feel capable of financially supporting another child but cannot afford the initial costs associated with adoption,” explained Emily. After three adoptions of their own, the Chapmans felt they had a degree of knowledge and experience they could offer other families who were pursuing adoption.
So they started Show Hope, a not-for-profit organization funded solely off of donations and love. Show Hope hit the ground running, educating families on opportunities for grants, administering grants themselves, assisting churches in setting up adoption funds, sending teams to visit orphans overseas, supporting others who directly serve orphans in China, and spreading the news of the great adoption we all experience — into Christ’s family.
Applying for a Show Hope grant is described by one grant family as “quick and painless.” Basic information is gathered, submitted, and grants are distributed once every two months. “This is the BEST part of my job,” boasts Emily, her voice rising with excitement. Families are given a grant and told to “GO” and bring their kids home! It is an empowering, trustworthy act of generosity made possible by Show Hope’s mission and sponsors.
As of the end of 2013, Show Hope has assisted in bringing home more than 4,000 orphans to forever families and has been responsible for sending 28 teams to countries like China, Haiti and Honduras for on-the-ground support for waiting children.
“Not all children will make it to a forever home,” says Emily. Upon realizing this truth, their family wanted to create a powerful relationship with the orphan care system in China. With on-the- ground support from their friends Robin and Joyce Hill, they have been able to do just that.
Show Hope has several care centers scattered throughout central China. These centers, including their largest six-story care facility, Maria’s Big House of Hope, offer life-giving care to some of China’s most medically fragile children. These facilities keep their nanny (or “ayi”) to child ratio very low. Many ayis care for only two or three children. “The children in our special care centers, no matter what their future may be, are loved in an environment where they are known by name and invested in personally by the nannies,” elaborates Emily. “For the children whose medical needs are untreatable, it is a great comfort knowing that we have the privilege to provide an environment where they were loved and cherished each day they were with us. The care provided ensures dignity for their lives, no matter how short.”
You cannot visit Show Hope’s website without feeling the pull to participate. It is compelling, motivating, and lays out a clear picture of the orphan crisis around the world. With postings on how to specifically pray for orphans by name, information on their needs, and opportunities to visit and serve orphans in central China and Haiti, their site begs obedience by us all — to carry, show, and display the hope we ourselves have been given.
What started as a casual, “Hey, wanna donate to our adoption?” has led to a full-blown ministry impacting and affecting families and children across the globe.
Emily works part-time for Show Hope, so she is not at the offices every day of the week. But you really wouldn’t know otherwise. She is passionate and wildly sold-out to Show Hope’s purpose and mission. Emily gets a front row seat to what God is doing with this ministry as she distributes grants, works with families, and has spent some time in China herself.
Of course, when I asked her favorite part, she let out a big “How- can-I-possibly-decide?” sigh and said, “Well, I have to say the best part is this — I have never seen a family who is called to adoption not raise all of their support. God provides. Whether Show Hope can help or not, we hear stories and see children come home all the time. God is so much bigger than we realize.”
I finally asked Emily if there was something she wanted anyone reading this piece to know about Show Hope, what would it be? “Come on! JOIN US! Help us impact the lives of waiting children!” Emily openly exclaimed.
Show Hope is doing it. They are carrying hope to those who don’t see it, feel it, or have it. They are spreading the greatest news of an eternal adoption story.
Are you ready to partner with them and spread the news, too?