Steven Curtis Chapman 'Desperately Hopeful' After Death of Daughter

Steven Curtis Chapman talks to "GMA" about honoring Maria in his new album.

December 14, 2009, 8:51 AM

Dec. 14, 2009 — -- Grammy-winning Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman is "desperately hopeful" about the future, a year and a half after the death of his daughter.

On May 21, 2008, 5-year-old Maria Sue Chapman was accidentally hit by Chapman's son, Will Franklin, after she ran into the path of his SUV in their driveway. Maria later died at a Nashville hospital.

Chapman, 47, told "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts that faith is "keeping us going as a family."

He also delivered a message from Will "straight out of his heart."

Will, 18, wanted his father to "tell them I'm hanging in there. I have some really hard days. I have some really good days. I know I'm going to see my little sister again. It really is my faith that keeps me going."

Chapman and his wife Mary Beth were already the parents of three biological children when they adopted three little girls from China -- Shaohannah, Stevey Joy and their youngest, Maria Sue.

The experience of adopting the girls would lead the Chapmans to found Show Hope, a nonprofit that seeks to provide information and resources to families considering adoption. The ministry's goal is to help families reduce the financial barrier of adoption, and has provided grants to more than 2,000 families wishing to adopt orphans from around the world. They recently opened Maria's Big House of Hope in Luoyang, China.

"Maria's Big House of Hope is a special needs orphanage," Chapman said. "There are about 130 beds there where special needs orphans in China are loved and taken care of."

During the holidays, Chapman said it is "the message of Christmas" that sustains his family.

"[God says] you're not alone and I am with you … I will walk with you."

Chapman's new album is called "Beauty Will Rise," and he told Roberts that "these are really my psalms."

"They really came out as my journal and I want to share them with people," he said.

He wrote one song, "Heaven is the Face," because "I'm thinking about heaven … I have a daughter living there now."

In the last year, two of Chapman's older children got married. On 23-year-old Emily's wedding day, the family set a butterfly free in memory of Maria.

"We had the most amazing wedding for Emily, at the very same place where this horrible tragedy took place," he said. "It really was a day of redemption."

And 20-year-old Caleb "married his fourth grade sweetheart," Chapman said.

Chapman Family Discusses Tragic Loss in 2008 ''GMA' Interview

In an exclusive interview in 2008, Chapman told Roberts about the moment he knew they were destined to return to China to adopt Maria, an orphaned girl he met while on tour there. He said an e-mail containing photos from his previous trip changed their lives and lead them back to Maria.

"As it [the e-mail] opened, it was this picture of me kissing Maria goodbye in that parking lot in China about two weeks earlier," said Chapman. "And it was instant. I knew that that was a picture of a daddy kissing his little girl. It wasn't just a guy with a little child that needed a home, it was a daddy and a little girl. It was just so clear when I saw it."

After Maria's adoption, the Chapman family was complete, and Maria grew into her role as the baby girl of this loving family.

"We knew from the get-go that she was a firecracker," said Mary Beth.

That same animated spirit would lead her to run toward her older brother as he neared home.

Mary Beth described what happened: "The girls had been playing on the playground and -- complete accident. She was, actually excited that he was coming home. And he is so great with the girls. They just love him. And she was running to see him and, you know, ran, you know, into the path of the car."

"I just really had a deep concern in my heart that I wouldn't lose two children as a result of this because I knew what Will was struggling with," Chapman added.

He described the struggle to grieve the death of a child, while at the same time supporting the ones who lived on.

"We have talked a lot. And you will hear all of us talk about the process of grieving with hope. That's what has kept us breathing, kept us alive is that while we are grieving this process, there is a hope that we have that we're anchored to in the midst of just what sometimes seems unbearable," said Chapman.

Sitting by her husband's side, Mary Beth added emotionally, "I've said, you know, somewhat coldly, 'I don't care whose lives are touched by this story and whose lives are changed or what good comes of it.' As the heart of a mom, I want Maria back."

Crying, she continued, "And that's -- you know, that's what I want people to know is I want Maria back. But because I know that she is completely whole because of my faith, I know that she's completely whole and completely OK and I'm going to see her again. As a mom, I have to shift that grief to go."

For Chapman and his wife, grieving for Maria and maintaining the strength to comfort their other five children has been extremely difficult.

For the three oldest Chapman children, Emily, Caleb and Will, healing comes through counseling, faith and the unwavering love of family.

"Obviously it's been really hard, you know, just the past couple months," said Will about his sister's death.

Will described his siblings' show of support and love: "I started running after the accident, you know, and started just running away from the house. And I remember Caleb was the first one to run and kind of just jump on me and hold me. And then Shaoey was right there by him."

"To me, you know, that meant a ton... I didn't really want to be at the house, I just wanted to be away. And I was just freaking out," Will continued.

In addition to his supportive family, Will also turned to faith to help him through.

"I've gotten a stronger faith through all this, you know, and more faith through all this. But then there's those days, you know, that just hit you and you're just, like, 'Oh, man, this is just awful.' But -- you just gotta continue to choose to live. And that's the faith that, that continues to keep me going, you know."

Will's siblings described the strength of the Chapman family's support system.

"When you see someone hurting and you see someone burdened, you want to take that burden from 'em. And because you -- I -- you'd rather endure that pain than see your brother, in this case my for real brother endure that pain," said Caleb.

"Grief is this windy road," said his sister Emily. "And sometimes you turn the corner and you've got a straightaway and it's beautiful. And then you can turn a corner at the end of that straightaway and it's thunderstorms and mountains and it can be hard, even within the same day."

Chapman said that the accident made the family question their faith in God.

"My son said the other day that, you know, 'Yeah, we are family.'... But we're a family with a lot of questions," Steven Curtis Chapman said. "But that's what faith is. It's living with the questions. That doesn't mean you have the answers. That's exactly what faith is."

Emily Yacus contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events