Even as he was saying this, Steven received and opened an e-mail from China. It turned out to be the picture the family had taken of him saying goodbye to Maria.

“I called my wife,” Steven says, “And I said, ‘I just got a picture of me holding my little girl Maria. At that point, it wasn’t a man with an orphan anymore. It was a dad with his daughter. That was the moment when I knew we were supposed to go get her.”

Before Steven even got home from the studio, his wife already had the paperwork filled out. “All those times in your life when you pray, ‘God, is this really Your will?’… it’s almost like every time I asked God about these kinds of things related to adoption, I just hear Him laughing, going, ‘Please, give Me a break. Is it My will? How much clearer can I make it? It’s in Scripture. Yeah, you’ve got concerns. Yeah, you wonder about this and that; but don’t you think I can handle that? If I called you to it, won’t I give you what you need to deal with it?’”

After finally getting Maria home, the Chapmans took her to a doctor to have her heart condition evaluated. Following a thorough examination, the doctor concluded there was nothing wrong with her heart. She had been completely healthy from the beginning. “God gave her a misdiagnosis of a heart condition and put her in that foster family just so I would meet her and get to be her dad,” Steven says.

Now as the parents of three adoptive daughters, the Chapmans are firm believers that adoption is an invitation to the heart of God. “It’s like God saying, ‘You said you wanted to know Me … so I’m inviting you in,” Steven explains. “‘But it’s not just that you ask and all of a sudden — poof! — you know Me. I’m gonna reveal myself to you and invite you deeper and deeper into My heart. It’s mystery, but it’s not unexplained mystery. Scripture tells you this is where you’ll find Me. It’s why I said, “Care for orphans.” It’s why I said, “Visit the ones in prison.” It’s why I said, “Feed the hungry.” Because when you do that, you’re doing that to Me, and you’re drawing near to Me and you’re getting to know Me.’”

Chapman Cliff Notes

Steven Curtis Chapman is an artist (and avid reader, evidently) who wrestles with his own faith and humanity. And, beginning with his third album, "More to this Life," he has tended to create musical artifacts that honestly reflect where he is at a given season of life. The joys, the struggles, the doubts, the awe, the lessons learned — these (plus truths learned from a lot of books) become the raw material his songs are built of; and, with each project, a new theme emerges. Here is a behind-the-scenes “short story” version of how each was inspired.

"More to this Life" (1989):
Life is short. What more is there to this human experience than just living to die? Catalyst: The funeral service of [wife] Mary Beth’s uncle.

"For the Sake of the Call" (1990):
<p>What does it truly mean to call yourself a disciple of Jesus Christ? What does it mean to follow Him? Catalyst: "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

"The Great Adventure" (1992):
Only God’s grace can tear down walls and free us to live the life we were created for. Catalyst: A meeting with Steven’s pastoral advisory board at which he confessed a sense of failure and, ultimately, was led to a deeper experience of God’s grace in the midst of his own weakness.

"Heaven in the Real World" (1994):
What does it look like to be living representatives of heaven in the midst of this world’s chaos? Catalysts: "Loving God", "How Now Shall We Live" and "The Body" — all by Chuck Colson.