To celebrate their recent adoption of Maya through Summit County Children Services, her parents Amanda and Vanessa Burke decided to have a party for family and friends to meet and celebrate Maya.
They called it Maya’s “Gotcha Day.” And instead of toys for Maya, they asked their guests to bring school supplies – which would be donated to Children Services’ annual School Supplies Program which helps hundreds of children in agency care get a solid start to the new school year.
“The theme of the party was ‘Welcome to the Pond,'” Amanda Burke said. “Maya was for sure the life of the party. We were overwhelmed with joy at how many people ventured out to celebrate Maya.”
The Burkes, who live in Kent, had attached the lists of school supplies needed by the agency to the invitations for Maya’s “Gotcha Day.” They received more school supplies than they had expected.
“We had hoped to get 15 filled backpacks, but got twice that and boxes of additional supplies,” Amanda Burke said. “We feel great about Maya’s contribution. She will be able to make a lot of school-aged children smile.
We knew that Maya would not remember, or even still have many of the toys she might have received at the party when she was older. We thought it would be so much more meaningful to be able to show Maya, this super special little girl, how much she was loved, and how, just by being born, she was changing lives even if it was just one school supply at a time.”
“Buying school supplies, especially if you have multiple children, can be time consuming and expensive,” Vanessa Burke said. “With all the other demands on a foster or birth family, this program relieves some stress and frees up time. It helps kids start their year off well-prepared, which can have a huge impact on learning.”
The Burkes have been Summit County Children Services foster parents since February, 2015. Maya was the fourth foster child placed in their home.
An agency caseworker had contacted the Burkes five months after one infant had been placed with them and asked if they would be interested in a second child: a two-day-old little girl, given up by her birth mother under Ohio’s Safe Haven Program.
“We knew Maya would be our daughter before we even walked into the hospital room to meet Baby Girl Doe,” Vanessa Burke said. “At first we thought we were crazy for now having two babies, but then we saw those beautiful eyes. We knew it was meant to be.”
Overall, the Burkes describe Maya, who is named after the legendary and inspirational poet Maya Angelou, as “perfect.”
“Maya is gaining new abilities every day, and Maya is so loved,” Amanda and Vanessa Burke said. “Mix that with the strength of her birth mother, and the name is more than fitting.”
For more information on Foster Care and Adoption through Summit County Children Services, call (330) 379-1990. To learn about opportunities to donate to programs to provide School Supplies, Holiday Gifts or Easter Baskets to children in Summit County Children Services care, call (330) 379-1994.