Feeling grateful and inspired after adopting their daughter, Zoe, from Korea in 2010, Maryann and Cap Post decided to have a celebration — inviting 150 friends and family members. Instead of gifts, they asked for donations to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund. What happened next, quite simply, blew them away.
When Maryann and Charles “Cap” Post came home from Korea in October of 2010 – their newly adopted daughter Zoe in their arms – they didn’t expect fanfare. But as they pulled into the driveway of their New Jersey home around 10 p.m. that night, flashbulbs greeted their arrival.
“My friends were in our driveway with cameras flashing,” says Maryann. “People were so happy for us that we adopted a little girl.”
Over the previous 2-and-a-half years, these same friends had stood by their side as they navigated the demanding and – at times – trying adoption process. “They knew the whole story of what it took, a lot of paperwork,” Maryann explains. So naturally, when Miss Zoe Ann Post finally came home, they couldn’t wait to meet her.
But after the excitement of their first night home, Maryann and Cap decided not to subject Zoe to any more excitement or over-stimulation – not for a while anyway.
After nearly a year had passed – and Zoe had settled into her new life – the Posts decided it was finally time to have a celebration. “It was time to plan her baptism, so I thought, well why don’t we make this a really big party – the party that we held off on having?” says Maryann.
By now, Zoe had become something of a local celebrity.
“What’s nice about our community is that everybody knows everybody,” says Maryann. “People at the supermarket know Zoe.”
The guest list for Zoe’s long-awaited party began to grow. “It got big. We invited 150 people. It got crazy!”
As she started to plan, Maryann realized that with a lot of guests would come a lot of gifts. But Zoe has everything she needs, she thought – not least of which is a loving family and a warm, stable home. “I thought…there are children so much needier,” she says.
A long-time volunteer with RESOLVE, the national infertility association, Maryann knew that many families struggling with fertility issues would consider adoption – if not for one major impediment. The cost.
“I’m always feeling grateful that we were able to afford the costs for international adoption,” she says.
Feeling grateful – and inspired – Maryann decided to turn Zoe’s baptism party into a benefit for children and families. “Kind of in the excitement of the party, the number of people coming, the chance to give back somehow, I thought, maybe I could get people to make a donation to Holt.”
She contacted Rose McBride, Holt’s senior director for major donors, who suggested that guests donate to the Special Needs Adoption Fund – a fund Holt created to help families afford the cost to adopt children with special needs. As Maryann knew from her time working with RESOLVE, the fees and expenses required to adopt a child can be daunting to any family. But families hoping to adopt a child with a special need face an even greater financial burden, as many of these children will require expensive medical procedures once home. As the vast majority of children now coming home to families have some degree of special need, the demand for SNAF grants has increased significantly in recent years.
What’s more, many of the children who join families with the help of SNAF grants are “waiting children” – children who might not have another opportunity to be adopted.
Maryann was convinced. “I thought, ‘how wonderful to honor Zoe and help a family who wants to adopt. I thought, how wonderful,” she says.
Zoe was not a waiting child. But like many children now coming home to families in the U.S. from Korea, she was born with a normal, neonatal condition. “Zoe had a low birth weight, but that didn’t qualify her for special needs,” Maryann explains.
Even though Zoe herself didn’t have special needs, Maryann saw Zoe’s baptism party as a great opportunity to raise both funds for – and awareness of – special needs adoption. “I used it as an opportunity to educate,” she says.
As far as the fundraising-in-lieu-of-gifts idea, Maryann didn’t know what to expect. “In the back of my mind, I was hoping people are generous. I was thinking, oh, I hope they write a big check,” she says, laughing. “Of course, I wouldn’t think that for a gift for me.”
But then, as she started to add up the donations, she had a true George Bailey moment – realizing just how rich in friends, great friends, she truly was. “They were really generous,” she says. “It just blew me away.”
With their friends and family, Maryann and Cap Post shared both the struggle of the adoption process, and the joy of bringing her home. And then they shared Zoe, who Maryann describes as “healthy and happy and adorable and everything you want in a child.”
How could that not inspire her friends to help other families and children?
“They know it’s important to us. And because of their connection to us and loving Zoe, it’s important to them,” says Maryann. “You’re helping a family have a child in their lives, and what’s more important than that?”
In honor of Zoe, Maryann and Cap raised over $5,000 for the Special Needs Adoption Fund — helping at least two families who would not otherwise have the funds to adopt, and two children who might not have another chance to join a family.
Robin Munro | Managing Editor