Parents

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan post letter to newborn daughter, Max

In a public Facebook post published Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg joined his wife, Priscilla Chan, in welcoming their baby daughter, Max, to the world.

"Your mother and I don't yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future," reads the first line of Tuesday's 2,234-word open letter on the social-networking website, for which Zuckerberg serves as CEO. "Your new life is full of promise, and we hope you will be happy and healthy so you can explore it fully. You've already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in."

The letter's focus shifts away from Max to a bigger picture — one that hopes for a future that eradicates disease, advances human potential and promotes universal equality. In an effort to achieve this goal, the couple is pledging "99 percent" of their Facebook shares, which they valued Tuesday at $45 billion, during their lifetimes.

"Today your mother and I are committing to spend our lives doing our small part to help solve these challenges," the 31-year-old billionaire added. "I will continue to serve as Facebook's CEO for many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work. By starting at a young age, we hope to see compounding benefits throughout our lives."

Zuckerberg's note ends with a message of hope for Max and youth around the world.

"Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children," the letter concludes. "We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world."

The letter is signed, "Love, Mom and Dad." The couple married in 2012 after meeting as Harvard University undergrads and dating for a decade.

Among those to congratulate the growing family with a Facebook "Like" were Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, philanthropist Melinda Gates and former TODAY anchor Katie Couric.

On Tuesday afternoon, the couple's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative organization posted a related video highlighting themes similar to those expressed in the open letter.

"The pregnancy has been really fun," Chan says in the Facebook video, whose caption states that it was taped "a few weeks" before Max was born. "We're really looking forward to meeting her. Mark is really looking forward to meeting her."

"Yeah, well, it's been 37 weeks," Zuckerberg says with a laugh. "So, I think it's time for her to come out."

Later in the two-minute video, Chan expresses her hopes for Max: "We want her to have the benefits of an entire generation that is able to take advantage of all that we're able to create."

Zuckerberg agrees. "She and everyone in her generation really should be able to live much better lives than we can in all these ways," he says. "And I hope that, not just our child, but everyone in our community has an opportunity to go on and have an even bigger impact in the world. I think she'll get there."

About a year and a half before she became Max's mom, Chan gave a rare TV interview to TODAY's Savannah Guthrie and counterbalanced talk of having children with the couple's multimillion-dollar donations to educational initiatives. "Yes, we would love to have kids," she told Guthrie for a TODAY story that aired in May 2014. "But we're so busy taking care of other people's children right now."

This past summer, Zuckerberg was excited to announce news of Chan's pregnancy, especially in the context of what he said were three previous miscarriages. "You feel so hopeful when you learn you're going to have a child," reads part of that emotional Facebook update. "You start imagining who they'll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they're gone. It's a lonely experience. Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you're defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own."

Many supporters celebrated not only the news that the couple was pregnant, but also the often-private pair's willingness to discuss miscarriages in a public forum.

The final weeks of the pregnancy featured more joyful moments, including a maternity shoot with celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz, and a photo of that shows a collection of the couple's favorite childhood books and toys for the baby on the way.

In late November, Zuckerberg announced he planned to take two months of paternity leave, adding, "Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families."

Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.

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