Long after Emily Chapman traveled to Haiti with her junior high youth group, she couldn't forget the poverty and despair she'd seen there.
Seeing the children and the awful conditions they lived in really tugged at her heart. Although Emily knew she couldn't help each kid she'd seen, she wondered if there might be a way to help just one needy child.
"I've always thought adoption was cool, but on that trip I suddenly thought, Why not our family?" says Emily, now 18 and a freshman at Baylor University in Texas.
When she pitched the idea of international adoption to her parents, she got mixed reactions. Her dad, Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman, was pumped about the idea as long as her mom was on board. Her mom, however, wasn't so sure. With Emily's dad on the road so often, she felt it might not be smart to add a sixth Chapman to the mix.
There was another problem: If they did adopt a child, the Chapmans were thinking about a child from China. But adoption laws there were strict, and they were worried about restrictions that could keep them from reaching this goal.
This didn't stop Emily's hopes. In fact, it made her try harder. She left three-page letters on her parents' bed about why they should adopt. She bought a book on international adoption. And she prayedbig timethat God would bring her a little sister from a faraway country.
But a year and a half later, Emily was frustrated. It seemed like her prayers hadn't been answered. So she talked to her pastor. "When he asked if I'd been praying for my will or God's, I realized I needed to look at my motives," Emily says. "I realized nothing I could do would make this happen." So she stopped her effortsand began praying for God's will for her family.
Soon after, adoption laws changed in China, and the Chapman family sensed that God was opening the door for them.
Emily's parents filled out mountains of required paperwork, and many months later the entire Chapman family boarded a plane for Changsha, China, to get Emily's little sister, Shaohannah.
While there have been sacrifices, like having to change diapers and babysit often, Emily loves her relationship with her little sister Shaoey, who's now a lively 4-year old. "We make cookies and draw together. She wants me to put makeup on her all the time and do her hair," explains Emily. "I grew up playing Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers with my brothers, but Shaoey's into the Disney princesses. We do girlie stuff together; it's so much fun."
Since the trip to get Shaoey, the Chapmans have adopted a second little girl from China, Stevey Joy, and Emily's parents have started Shaohannah's Hope Foundation. This organization provides financial help to families who want to adopt from overseas.
"While it was difficult waiting for God to open doors, it helped me learn to rely on him more," Emily says. "And watching the way everything unfolded, I'm amazed by God's perfect timing."
Recently, the Chapmans headed back to China to adopt a third daughter. For more information on adoption, go to www.shaohannahsope.org.
Copyright © 2004 by the author or Christianity Today/Campus Life magazine.
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