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This article is one component of the cover package on "Songs of Justice, Missions of Mercy."

When Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman returned from China in 2000 with their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, friends greeted them at the Nashville airport, congratulating them on the precious addition to their family. Several of them said, "We dream of doing what you've done. We just can't afford it."

Mary Beth stopped in her tracks. "Are you telling me that the only thing between you and rescuing one of these orphaned babies is money? If you're serious, start filling out the paperwork. We'll pay for it."

Steven laughs upon retelling the story, remembering his wait a minute, honey reaction. International adoptions cost between $10,000 and $45,000 per child.

At first Mary Beth opposed adding to their family through adoption. The couple already had three teenagers, and as a Grammy-winning musician, Steven was frequently on tour. Given their lifestyle and life stage—both were almost 40—adoption seemed impossible. But the Chapman kids, especially Emily, had left letters on their parents' pillows with comments like, "Please listen for God speaking to you about this." Steven got on board first, and Mary Beth eventually came around.

Since Mary Beth's airport offer, her brother and Steven's brother have each adopted two children from China. Other close friends have followed suit.

The Chapmans started exploring further adoption support efforts by asking Bethany Christian Services, the adoption agency they had worked with, if it had funding set aside to help people with the hefty costs. Bethany didn't. The couple researched starting their own program to help underwrite adoptions, and two years later, they founded Shaohannah's ...

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November 2009

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