Mary Beth Chapman opens her front door flanked by two little Asian girls—one perched on her hip, the other dancing excitedly around her in a shirt that proclaims "American Girl." The "dancer" is Shaohannah Hope (or, as the family calls her, Shaoey, pronounced "show-ee"). The younger of the two is Stevey Joy. These are the girls Mary Beth and her husband, veteran Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman, traveled a long way to bring into their family, and who, as Shaoey explains, were born "from Mommy's heart" (unlike her three older siblings who were born "from Mommy's tummy"). They're also the girls who brought into Mary Beth's life the much-needed qualities that comprise their middle names.
The typical bustle in the Chapman home, which is inhabited by two parents, five kids (including biological children Emily, Caleb, and Will Franklin), three cats, two dogs, and two fish, is a little subdued this morning. Mary Beth and Steven were at the emergency room until 1:30 A.M. with Shaoey, whom they feared had broken her nose when she fell off the bench of her pint-sized piano, not an unusual occurrence for this active toddler. Thankfully, Shaoey was only bruised, a fact that doesn't slow her down this morning.
As Mary Beth gives a brief tour of their home, a peach Victorian nestled in the rolling countryside outside Nashville, she's constantly interrupted by Shaoey's additional commentary. While in the room she'll eventually share with Stevey Joy, which is decorated with Chinese dresses and dolls, Shaoey drags her little sister to the mini piano, the one that matches the grown-up version downstairs in the living room, and grabs her "ta-tar" (translation: guitar), which is "just like Daddy's," and entertains us with an impromptu concert. "She's got this much energy all day long," Mary Beth explains. "And she never naps."
It's tough to picture such a live wire languishing in a Chinese orphanage. But that's where she was until the Chapmans traveled overseas in March of 2000 to claim their long-distance family member. Mary Beth never dreamed she'd adopt a child, let alone one from so far away. In fact, she was the lone dissenter for most of the two-and-a-half-year campaign daughter Emily staged to get her parents to adopt a baby from overseas.