Loss of new dad leaves Forest Grove family reeling
Adam and Christiana Mayer met in New York City at LaGuardia Community College when Christiana told Adam off for smoking in the hallway. On September 24, 1994, they married in New York City. Two years later, they decided to pack up their lives and move to Oregon, after falling in love with the state upon a visit to Christiana's sister. They lived in several cities in Oregon before settling in Forest Grove.
Adam always wanted to be a father, Christiana Mayer said. But Christiana faced various health scares, which led her doctors to tell her she wouldn't be able to carry a baby. Adam, who was determined to have a baby one way or another, began looking into adoption. Five years later, the Mayers met their new baby, Edith Frances, on Dec. 7, 2017.
Life was finally how it was supposed to be for them, Christiana Mayer said. They called themselves "ACE Mayer," an acronym for their initials.
"He had a great job, we had a good house, we had a girl, we had everything we needed," she said. "We were finally there. ... We were complete. ... We were a family."
On Friday, March 30, Adam Mayer went to sleep and didn't wake up the following morning, for reasons unknown, at just 47 years old.
Only months after the birth of their adopted baby, Christiana Mayer has been left with not only tremendous heartbreak for her loss, but also an abundance of unanticipated costs, including additional fees in the adoption process, because of his death.
The adoption isn't yet finalized, Mayer said. The process typically takes another 4 to 5 months after the family has the child in their custody, she said. She and Adam had put away money for what is called a non-hearing adoption, where the court takes care of the final steps in the process, without needing the adoptive parents present. However, Mayer will now have to attend the hearing with a lawyer, in order to defend why Adam's name should still be put on the birth certificate.
Having his name on the birth certificate is not only important because Adam is Edith's father, but there are also logistical reasons, Mayer said.
"There are legal ramifications, survivor benefits, life insurance he had with work," she said. "It's not only that he was her dad — it's the legal implications of that too."
Adam and Christiana Mayer were in the so-called adoption pool for three years, awaiting a match, she said. Christiana had given up hope, but Adam refused to.
On Nov. 28, 2017, they received a call from their adoption agency saying they had found a match. Adam turned a messy office filled with Christiana's art supplies into a nursery in just one day. A week and a half after the call, Edith Frances Mayer was born.
Her first name comes from Adam's paternal grandmother and her middle name from Christiana's grandfather.
"Until Saturday, my grandfather was the finest man I knew who had passed away," Christiana Mayer said. "And I wanted to honor him by naming her after him."
Those who knew Adam Mayer described him as funny, hard-working, and well-respected — a man of morals and ethics, and one who loved his wife and daughter.
"I knew how much he loved me and I know how much he loved (Edith)," Christiana Mayer said. "One of my favorite things about him was that we could have whole conversations without talking to each other. We knew each other so well, he could just look at me and I'd be like, 'Yes, dear.'"
Though Adam Mayer was funny and sarcastic, and he and his wife loved to tease one another, there was something calm and reassuring about his presence, she said.
"Somebody told me one time, when they saw Adam walk into a room, they knew everything was going to be okay," Christiana Mayer said. "I always knew no matter what, he had my back."
Adam Mayer was very involved in politics. He brought Christiana into it too, she said, and they became a sort of team through it. Friends said that if you knew one, you knew the other.
He worked as a telecommunications coordinator for Washington County and was well-known by many in the community. He spent countless hours volunteering with political groups, campaigning for people he believed would better his community.
"He wanted good people. You could be a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Republican — whatever you were, he valued ethics and morals over everything," Christiana Mayer said of Adam. "He really wanted to make his community better. It was something that he believed in; If you live here, you have to give back something."
Adam Mayer also loved to cook, garden, and can food, Christiana said. He would bring Edith into the kitchen with him, determined to one day get her interested in the same hobbies, she said.
"I didn't like doing any of those things, and he did," Christiana Mayer said. "I'm not a kitchen person, but my daughter was going to be one."
On that fateful Saturday morning, a friend came over to support Christiana Mayer.
"The chaplain looks at (my friend) and goes, 'Does she have support?'" Mayer said. "And my friend goes, 'You have no idea.'"
Mayer had no idea either.
"I mean I knew I had support, I had family and friends, but I had no idea," she said. "And you never want to have to tap into it — I would give almost anything in the world for him to be back here right now — but the support blew me away."
No less than an Oregon state representative, Julie Parrish of West Linn, set up a GoFundMe online fundraiser after receiving the news of Adam Mayer's death. Parrish knew the family well, as they had volunteered many hours campaigning for her and had become friends.
Community members surpassed the original goal on the GoFundMe quickly, leading Parrish to keep raising it higher.
"It's been wonderful to see. Obviously, raising funds does not bring back a loved one who you have lost," Parrish said. "But the bigger the cushion (we can provide), the softer the fall."
A former Hillsboro state representative and certified public accountant, Katie Eyre, who is close to the Mayers, said the support doesn't come as a surprise to her.
"Anytime somebody needed something, these two showed up," Eyre said. "They volunteer, and that's what you're seeing back."
While the time Adam Mayer got to spend with baby Edith was far, far too short, Christiana is grateful he got to know her. Someone told her to never stop talking about lost loved ones, she said.
"He's her father and the only way she will know him is through our memories," Christiana Mayer said. "I owe it to her for her to know him. Because he is Dad."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated Edith Mayer's middle name in one reference. Her middle name is Frances. The story has been updated.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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