Eleven years ago Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife adopted Maria Sue from China as their own daughter. However, seven years ago, Maria died from injuries sustained in a driveway accident on May 21, 2008. On his Facebook, Steven Curtis reflects:
"11 years ago today Maria Sue became a Chapman! Though we still carry a deep sadness with us & will until we see her again in heaven, we are so grateful to get to be a part of her adoption story into her earthly family...and we're very thankful to know that the story is far from over!"
On May 21, 2008. Chapman's son, Will, was pulling into the driveway of their house after auditioning for a musical at school. It was reported that Maria saw Will's car and ran down the driveway to greet him. Neither saw each other and Will's car struck Maria. Maria was airlifted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
The paramedics were unable to revive Maria. She was pronounced dead on arrival. At the time of Maria's death, the Chapman family was preparing to celebrate Caleb's high school graduation from Christ Presbyterian Academy and Emily's engagement just hours before the accident.
During the memorial service for Maria the family expressed their faith in God and their love for one another.
After Maria's accident, the Chapman family spoke publicly about their loss and the role that faith played in their healing. They have appeared on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, in People magazine, The 700 Club, and Huckabee.
Maria was buried in the flower girl dress that she was planning to wear to her sister Emily's wedding in October. The family put Maria's ballet shoes, her favorite doll, letters from her brothers and sisters, and other personal momentos to Maria in her coffin. During the funeral service, Will kept Maria's security blanket around his shoulders. Maria is buried in Williamson Memorial Gardens in Franklin, Tennessee.
Chapman's subsequent album, Beauty Will Rise, focuses on Maria's death and its aftermath. Chapman almost quit his singing career due to Maria's death and he nearly chose to never sing "Cinderella" again, but soon realized that Maria would have wanted him to continue singing and to honor her memory by singing "Cinderella".
An investigation of Maria's death was performed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. However, it was ruled as a tragic accident and no charges were filed. In November 2009, a year after Maria died, Chapman performed at a special concert at Harvest Christian Fellowship. Greg Laurie, the pastor of Harvest, suffered the loss of his own son, Christopher Laurie, just months after Chapman's loss. Chapman performed several songs from Beauty Will Rise.
Since Maria's unexpected death, Mary Beth Chapman has written and released a book about the death of her daughter called Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope.