Mike Ayers was born in a Hawaii hospital in 1980 — and then was put up for adoption three days later. Now he needs the search for his birth parents to span all 50 states and even some Pacific islands, all in the hopes of helping his 2-year-old son.
Little 2-year-old Jaxson Ayers is unique in many ways.
For one, he’s a Leap Day baby, born on February 29, 2016 — which means he’ll only have an official birthday every four years.
And second — and probably most importantly — he’s been a fighter for all of his short life, bravely suffering from multiple congenital conditions which have taken his family on a harrowing medical journey they could have never imagined just a couple years ago.
Jaxson’s health concerns began from the moment he entered the world in Woodbridge, Virginia. Right away, his underdeveloped left ear and underdeveloped facial features were quite obvious to the naked eye. These disorders, his parents Mike and Kristin Ayers learned, were called Hemifacial Microsomia and Microtia of the left ear.
But as shocking as they were, the ear and facial structure concerns would soon become the least of the Ayerses’ concerns with the news that Jaxson also had a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).
“It was a blow to the gut,” Mike Ayers said. “I couldn’t breathe. We were in shock.”
But the diagnoses weren’t over yet. As time went on, the list of Jaxson’s afflictions grew to include Congenital Hearing Loss in both ears (he will always be deaf, Mike said), as well as ASD.
Devastated by their baby boy’s conditions and the news that his life would never be “normal,” Mike and Kristin pressed the doctors at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for answers, determined to learn all they could about Jaxson’s multiple disorders and what could be done to treat them. They also sought an answer for the biggest question of all — Why? Why Jaxson, when he has three half-sisters and one full-blooded sister, all of whom were born perfectly healthy?
The doctors explained that Jaxson’s conditions were hereditary and that to fully understand the diagnoses and what they were up against — to fully help Jaxson — they would need to analyze the couple’s family medical history. Kristin provided her family’s history easily, and everything on that side looked normal.
But when Mike approached his parents, they dropped a bombshell: Mike was adopted. And unfortunately, all of his adoption records had been lost.
Over the past two years, Jaxson has undergone two heart surgeries (one of which was for a circumflex aorta) and one surgery to fix a deformity in his ear. But the doctors’ hands are tied, Mike said, because they can’t see the full picture of what they’re dealing with. Until they get more information, they can only react to Jaxson’s health concerns as they arise, instead of taking a more proactive approach.
Mike’s adopted parents were able to tell him a few things: He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, at Tripler Army Hospital, on July 20, 1980. His parents, Michael Ayers (a Marine) and wife Tamou, adopted him when he was just three days old. They said his birth mother identified herself as a Filipino and was allegedly named Maria Mercedes.
After Jaxson was born, Mike took a DNA test and learned that his ethnicity is British (34%), Asian (26%), Spanish/Portuguese (13%), Polynesian (12%), and Scandinavian (6%). He hopes that, as he searches for his birth parents, this information will come in handy.
In addition to the concerns about Jaxson’s genetic disorders, Mike himself was diagnosed with Liposarcoma in May 2017, a rare cancer that shows up in the fat cells within deep soft tissue. He underwent two surgeries on his leg to remove the cancer, and his prognosis is positive. But since some experts say Liposarcoma could be genetic, it’s just one more thing Mike would like answers for, as the mystery into his family history deepens.
In the meantime, Jaxson is an active and happy toddler, despite his disabilities. He wears a hearing aid, giving him limited audial help, and he’s learning sign language. Though Mike and Kristin live with the knowledge (and fear) that there could be more unknown diagnoses around every corner, they are thankful for the blessing of Jaxson in their lives and what an inspiration he’s been to them and others.
“He has pulled this family as close as we will ever be,” Mike said. “He is showing us that even with the issues he was born with, he can still be just as happy as a perfectly healthy baby. Our family has learned that no matter what we’re facing, we can still love each other and be happy. He has it worse than we do, and he is only 2.”
The family moved to Parker, Colorado, last fall so Jaxson could receive treatment at Children’s Hospital Colorado. You can follow his story on Facebook at Jaxson’s Journey. Mike Ayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to help Mike Ayers find his birth parents, please share this article. His hope is that someday, somewhere, it will reach the right person — and that Jaxson will have hope. Until then, they wait.