This is Maria Sue Chapman, 5-year-old daughter of Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth. She was killed Wednesday when she was struck by a vehicle in the driveway of their home. Compounding the tragedy was the fact that her teenaged brother was driving the car. It's simply too awful for words.
Many people were following this story all day, from fans of the singer to parents of children of all ages. But those of you who haven't adopted children might not be familiar with the Chapman family's strong support of international adoption. The Chapmans adopted three daughters from China and set up a foundation, Shaohanna's Hope, to help Christian families fund adoptions. According to the singer's website, more than 1,700 families have received grants in the five years the fund has been in operation.
Lance and I decided in the fall of 2004 that we wanted to adopt a daughter and began preparing our application. I went to Target one Saturday afternoon in November, not realizing it was Adoption Awareness Month, and innocently picked up a sweet little book called "Shaoey and Dot." It was a children's story about a baby found abandoned in China, taken to an orphanage and adopted by a family. The baby is accompanied by a ladybug, Dot, who tried to explain what was happening to Shaoey, telling her, in part:
"But, then, there's a cry that's the saddest of all.
In fact, it's unlike any other.
It comes from a deep, empty place in your heart
That can only be filled by a mother.
And after today, I will never again
Hear that sad song coming from you . . . "
The book was written by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman.
I began crying, right there in Target. I bought the book. To this day I can't read that passage without tearing up.
Ting Ting has shelves full of books now. Some of them are about adoption, some are about China and some are about green eggs or brown bears. But Shaoey and Dot will always officially be The Very First Book I Ever Bought Specifically for my Daughter.
I said there were no words, but I seem to have written quite a few. You can visit a special blog the family set up in memory of Maria if you want to learn more or offer condolences.
But just in case you don't go, I wanted to share this video that's posted there: