“When the damage began to heal,” he explains, “I found that I was going to have to back off from screaming the high notes. So I wrote all these songs in lower keys and sang in a lower register. That gives a different kind of texture in my voice. Some of it could just be age, too — just hanging out on planet Earth a little longer now and getting less sleep with more kids and all the crazy stuff like that.”

Not to worry. There’s probably still a Dove or two in there somewhere. …

Shaoey and Dot:  Bug meets Bundle

To introduce kids and families to the idea of international adoption and to raise funds for the Shaohannah’s Hope Foundation, Steven & Mary Beth have recently co-authored "Shaoey and Dot:  Bug Meets Bundle." Told from the perspective of a friendly (aren’t they all?) ladybug, the book’s rhyming verse and colorful illustrations (courtesy of Mary Beth’s brother Jim who also has an adopted Chinese daughter) tell the heartwarming story of Shaohannah’s adoption from the orphanage, and of her subsequent trip overseas to join her new family. Published by Tommy Nelson, the book’s royalties will assist other families with adoption expenses.

8 is Enough
For the Moment at Least

It started out as a one-time thing. Emily, the eldest Chapman child, had hounded her parents for months ever since learning of the plight of millions of orphan girls in China. (Due to the “one child” policy and because boys have higher social value to families than girls, thousands of Chinese girls have been left for adoption.) Her brothers, Will and Caleb, joined the cause; and, in time, they wore their parents down (or won them over, depending on how you look at it). And so a trip was made to China, and little Shaohannah Hope joined the family. The Chapmans even started the foundation Shaohannah’s Hope afterward to assist other families with adoption. But that was where the family was going to stop — four kids, that’s it.

That was the plan, at least … until they felt compelled to go back and adopt Stevie Joy. “I was sure we were done then,” Steven recalls, “But I was making another trip to China, and people joked, ‘You’re going to China again, man? That’s not a good sign. You’re gonna bring another little girl home, aren’t you?’ It’s not like I was in denial. I totally felt at peace.”

But as Steven finished singing in a Beijing church and walked outside, he met an American family holding two Chinese infant girls. He picked one of them up. As it turned out, the girl in Steven’s arms was with the foster family because of a heart condition. Most healthy orphans in China bypass the foster system and go straight to adoption. “We’re just taking care of her until God sends a family for her,” the foster parents said. The baby was named Maria.

“In my mind it’s like this siren goes off,” Steven says, “because years earlier I wrote a song for a little girl, and the chorus says, ‘Who’s gonna love Maria?’ I hadn’t thought about the song in 10 years. But the chorus immediately starts playing in my head, and I immediately start to tell God, ‘No, it ain’t gonna be me! It’s gonna be somebody, but it ain’t gonna be me!’ So I get in the car, and I drive away; and I’m crying. And I’m saying, ‘God, what is the deal? I’m not supposed to feel this way about another little girl. I’ve held hundreds of orphans on trips like this, and I’m able to walk away and pray for them and trust you to send a family. So why am I feeling this way about this little girl?”

A week later Steven ran into the family again. This time they took his picture with Maria. Steven returned to Tennessee shortly thereafter and poured his energy into writing and recording. One day, as he was sitting at the computer, his pastor, Scotty Smith, walked in. “I had come home and argued with God for about two weeks, telling God this was crazy and didn’t make any sense.” Steven remembers. “Scotty asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m trying to make a record; but right now I’m trying to convince God that I don’t have any business adopting another daughter.’”