Felicia and I married at the ripe old ages of seventeen and nineteen. She actually went through her senior year of High School a married woman. No, it wasn’t a shotgun wedding. There wasn’t a child on the way. Just two kids who decided that life held no meaning if they couldn’t be married. The truth we now know is that we were way too young to get married. We did survive those first couple of years as we tried to find adulthood together.
Two years after becoming a family and setting up household in our little house we had our first child. Felicia’s pregnancy was normal. There were never any complications except for the fact that she was big and pregnant in the months of July, August and September and we drove a car with a broken air conditioner and did not have the money to repair it. She was miserable. I’ll never forget those drives to church. Her dressed up, pregnant and sweating. I felt so bad but didn’t really know what to do except ask a parent to help me get the A/C repaired and I had way too much pride for that so she suffered.
It was decided from the beginning that our child would come into the world by C-Section due to a health condition Felicia had battled all her life. The neat thing about C-Sections is that you get to choose the date your child is born. Honestly I’m not sure what the date we chose was. I think is was Monday, November 2. We woke up Sunday November 1 like most Sunday’s and began dressing for church when it broke. You know! The WATER BROKE. We were not going to church that Sunday. We called the doctor and then headed to the Santa Rosa hospital in Milton Florida where we met the doctor and began preparing ourselves for the arrival of our baby.
We didn’t know what the gender of the baby would be. I don’t remember if we didn’t want to know or if that information wasn’t available in 1981. It’s not important now.
I waited in the waiting room with a few family members when Felicia went into surgery to have this baby. It didn’t take long but it seemed forever. I paced the floor, looked out the window at a beautiful, sunny November day and thought about how cool it was going to be, to be a dad. I was happy. Life was good. We were on our way to what we believed would be a normal life. I felt warm, and content. It was a good feeling.
I remember hearing my name. It was a female voice. I raced from the waiting room to the hall where a nurse stood holding my son. “You have a boy, Mr. Scurlock” she said. I walked closer to take a good look at my new son. The instant I looked at him I knew something wasn’t right. He just didn’t look right. I know babies are typically ugly. I know that babies sometime come out looking really weird and they grow out of it. But something wasn’t right and I knew it. He wasn’t deformed. I’m not saying he looked like the elephant man. I just knew in my heart something was amiss. Suddenly the happiness I had been experiencing all day turned to extreme concern. The nurse turned around to take Adam to the nursery and there I stood. I had family and friends around me and I don’t know what they were thinking. Did they see it? Did they have the same concern as me? I sat on a bench in that hallway feeling disappointment and concern flowing over me. It just washed over me like a hot liquid. I could feel my face burning. Its hard to explain. I began to tear up. I can’t cry! But I did. Our pastors wife leaned over me and said “isn’t God good?” She thought I was crying for happiness or out of relief. She didn’t know that my heart was breaking and on the inside I felt like my world was coming apart. I forced a smile, looked up at her and said “yes mam”.
We named him Charles Adam, Charles after my dad and grand dad. Adam because we liked it and it began with the letter “A” which was important. My grand fathers name was Charles Alto Scurlock. My father’s name was Charles Avon Scurlock and my sons name was Charles Adam Scurlock. The decision was made long before he was born. We also decided that we would call him Adam.
In 1981 the baby didn’t stay in the room with the mom. When it was time to bring the baby to the moms room the father was asked to leave, the hall was blocked and no one was allowed in. Not even the father. The only contact I had with my new son was peering at him through a nursery window.
I began to convince myself that my initial concerns were unfounded. He was just ugly! “All babies are ugly”. I attempted to reassure myself. Surely he would grow out of it. After all his dad was a striking, handsome man and His mom was beautiful. Of course you need to know that I’m just kidding about what I looked like but the mother of this child was a beautiful twenty year old girl. So, he don’t look normal (to me) but he will grow out of it. I stood there looking at my son through a window, feeling better about things. Suddenly there was a little oriental lady standing beside me. I soon discovered that she was the pediatrician on call. She introduced herself to me looked at me and with the warmth of an iceberg said, “Mr. Scurlock, I’m pretty sure your son is mentally retarded”. “What?” She began to explain to me that there were some physically characteristics that sounded an alarm. Oh Lord! I was right! I was right to be concerned the first time I saw him and I was wrong when I started thinking everything was ok. This cold hearted lady just told me that my son, Charles Adam Scurlock was most likely mentally retarded.
I remember bringing him home. I remember the day one of my friends came by to see my new son. Adam laid there in his bassinet looking up. I felt embarrassed. Did my friend see it? Did he see that his friend Jeff Scurlock had a mentally retarded son? Did he see that Jeff, the football player, the weight lifter, the musician had a mentally retarded son? I was deeply concerned for Adam but I was also selfish in my embarrassment. Now I’m ashamed of myself. But I was only twenty-one years old.
I still didn’t understand it. This doesn’t happen to people like me! This happens to dope heads, and people who live wrong lives. I’m a Christian. This doesn’t happen to good people!! This happens to people who marry their cousins! Not to me!!
How would my family react, my parents, my sisters, my brother, my cousins, my grand parents?
At three months we had more crushing news. A doctor who ran a battery of test told us that Adam had Cerebral Palsy . He said that Adam would have severe coordination problems. We were not sure that he would ever walk. His arms and hands were drawn in. Even if he did walk he would most likely never ride a bicycle or bounce a basketball. You know do all the things that a normal child would do. We also found out that Adam suffered from Congenital Hydrocephalus. A condition that restricts the flow of the fluid the brain creates. In a normal body this fluid drains out of the brain into the spinal canal and is absorbed by the body. When it doesn’t flow like it’s supposed to it causes all kinds of problems which include a larger than normal head. The remedy is a shunt. A tube that is placed in the body going from the brain to the bladder. We never had that shunt installed. After a prayer meeting at our church the doctor told us that the fluid seemed to be flowing ok and that we would wait on the shunt.
We won’t accept it, we decided. After all we are Christians. We believe in the power of prayer so we got busy praying.
My grand father the Rev. Asa Williams made a request of us. A friend of his, a lay speaker who focused on healing, T.W. Mcgraw was at the Calvary Assembly of God in Anniston Alabama. Grand daddy wanted us to take Adam and let brother Mcgraw pray for him. Honestly I didn’t want to drive several hours just to let one man pray for Adam but out of respect for my grand father and out of a heart of desperation I decided we would go. We were late getting to the service where Brother McGraw was speaking. As a matter of fact he was finished speaking and the service was wrapping up. We took Adam to the front of the sanctuary where Brother McGraw was standing. We told him who we were and why we were there. He was a gruff man but embraced us because he loved my grand daddy. After praying for Adam he gave us instructions. “I want you children to go home and change the environment of your home and this baby’s room. I want you to find every scripture you can that promises you hope and healing. Write those scriptures on paper a put them all over the wall’s. When you go into this baby’s room you quote those scriptures over him”. We did.
Adam was late on everything. Rolling over, sitting up and more, he was always late.
We celebrated his first birthday. He sat up in his high chair. His arms were no longer drawn in and he used his hands reasonably well. I wanted him to dig his hands into his cake so I sat his cake on the platter part of his chair and told him to dig in. He looked at the cake and looked at me, back at the cake and then back to me with a look. I knew he wasn’t going to do it on his own so I took his hands and thrust them into the cake and then to his mouth. Hoping he would get the idea. I was hoping for a Kodak moment. That was the day we discovered that Adam didn’t like dirty hands. When he was about four I bought him a hand painting kit. When he wouldn’t put his hands in the paint I did it for him. Trying to show him how to do it. He began to gag like he was going to throw up. Another reminder that he didn’t like dirty hands.
Before his second birthday we moved from Brewton Alabama to Lakeland Florida. I moved my young family there so that I could attend Southeastern College, an Assemblies of God school. I was going into full time ministry and this is where I would get my start.
It’s important to note that when Adam grew out of that newborn body that he did grow out of the lack of beauty. He grew into a handsome, blonde boy. He was so cute. HE was happy but he still had these challenges.
At twenty months Adam was still not walking. Our doctor in Lakeland wanted to have some genetic test done on Adam. We had already been through a battery of genetic testing at University of South Alabama. We found out some things that I don’t have the time or space to go into. Now we are in central Florida and doctors are requesting more testing. During that testing it was suggested that we have Adam attend a daycare for handicapped children. We decided that we would visit the recommend day care just to see. This day care was an awesome place for children who were severely handicapped Felicia and I knew our child was not going to this place. It was full of children who were much more severe than Adam and we were not about to put him there. Our intentions were to help him overcome his disabilities with love, nurture and a positive environment. Nurture over nature!
I had a real funny experience with Adam during the testing. He was about to have a CAT scan. He wouldn’t lay still enough for the test so they gave him an oral medication that would knock him out. It didn’t. It just made him drunk. You know, like and old wine-o. They had us wait in the waiting room for the medician to do it’s thing. Adam began singing happy birthday. It wasn’t his birthday or anyone we knew of. He just sang. He sang it loud and slow. Real slow. Strangers were laughing at him. It was really cute. Folks would walk by and he would throw his hand up and say, “Hey” really slow and draw out. It was so funny. Finally they decided to try the SCAN (even though he was still awake). They wedged his head between some braces so that he couldn’t move. I stood by the table to reassure him. He didn’t move his head but he cut his eyes over at me and said…”Hey Daddy”, this time real fast. It was hilarious.
We worked with Adam on walking. I noticed that he was very comfortable standing as long as he had something to hold on to. As a matter of fact he would walk all over our apartment as long as he could hold on to just one of my fingers. It occurred to me that Adam could walk he just lacked confidence. A light came on in my little brain! I took one of my belts and put it in Adams hand. I too grabbed the belt and held it so that he could feel my hand next to his. We began walking around the apartment. Adam didn’t notice when I started sliding my hand farther and farther from his. Eventually the belt is dragging the floor between Adam and be and he hasn’t noticed and he’s still walking. Then, I laid my end of the belt on the floor and he kept walk across the room away from me. He had not noticed that I was no longer assisting him as he walked across the room. I sat on the floor and when he was almost to the other wall I called his name, “Adam!” He wheeled around (unassisted). He looked at me and then the belt and then back to me. He dropped the belt that then threw his hands out in front of him thinking he needed to do it to be balanced. Then he began bending his legs to get to the floor. He was shocked. I said “Adam, no! Don’t sit down”. I held out my hands and said “come to daddy”. He cautiously took a step, then another and another until he fell into my arms. Felicia watched the whole thing and when Adam fell into my arms she began to celebrate. She clapped her hands, squealed and told Adam how proud she was. It motivated him. He stood up, walked again and then looked at his mom for more approval which she gave. That was the last day that Adam ever crawled or held onto furniture to get around. He was twenty-one months old.
Adam loved drums even as a crawling child. He loved to get pots and pans out of the cabinets, put them in a circle around him and with the wood serving spoons his mother loaned him, he would beat on those drums. It actually sounded like real drumming. When we would attend church he wanted us to sit on the front row so he could watch the drums.
After the genetic testing at the University of South Florida the verdict came in. “Charles Adam Scurlock has a condition called Sotos Syndrome” the report said.
Sotos syndrome (cerebral gigantism) is a rare genetic disorder caused by mutation in the NSD1 gene on chromosome 5. It is characterized by excessive physical growth during the first few years of life. Children with Sotos syndrome tend to be large at birth and are often taller, heavier, and have larger heads (macrocrania) than is normal for their age. Symptoms of the disorder, which vary among individuals, include a disproportionately large and long head with a slightly protrusive forehead and pointed chin, large hands and feet, hypertelorism (an abnormally increased distance between the eyes), and down-slanting eyes. The disorder is often accompanied by mild mental retardation; delayed motor, cognitive, and social development; hypotonia (low muscle tone), and speech impairments. Clumsiness, an awkward gait, and unusual aggressiveness or irritability may also occur. Although most cases of Sotos syndrome occur sporadically (meaning they are not known to be inherited), familial cases have also been reported.
It wasn’t good news but it wasn’t horrible. The prognosis was a little better than what the doctor told us at three months. And, at least now we knew for sure what we’re dealing with
Adam grew but we still dealt with issues. He was clumsy and he still wasn’t “Normal”. We still had to deal with people. Family and friends who treated Adam differently because he wasn’t “Normal”. It was heartbreaking to see relatives just tolerate Adam while those children who were “Normal” were celebrated. Many times Adam would try to have conversations with people who would pass him off because he wasn’t “Normal”. It was something we learned to live with. We still deal with it.
We bought Adam his first set of drums when he was 5. Not the toy store variety. I found a set of used drums and that was his Christmas present. Christmas morning he looked those drums over, climbed up on the stool and began to play those drums. I was shocked! This boy who the doctors said would be clumsy had Rhythm! Our family is very musical. I’m sure that genetics played a role in that rhythm and I’m sure that God gets all the glory.
We lived in Linden Alabama when it was time for Adam to start school. I was serving a church as their pastor and Felicia was a stay at home mom. The day I took Adam for his first day of school I was so tense. How would Adam respond? Growing up he would never let us leave him in a church nursery without a display of screaming and crying. Felicia and I couldn’t even sing in church without him crying because he wasn’t with us. How would he respond to kindergarten? I walked him to his classroom; he walked in and never looked back. We were told of any problems at that school. We thought we were home free. We would find out differently.
We moved to Florida where I was serving a church as an associate pastor. The school also had a private school which Adam attended. He was still in kindergarten. Adam was not really challenged at the school so the educational part of it was easy. I’m not saying that to be critical. It’s just a fact. The lady who taught that class did not push the envelope with Adam. I did find out from Adam later in life that at that school he received many paddling s from the administrator. Wouldn’t you think that if a child’s father is in an office down the hall that he would be notified before this child was paddled? I would! The man who served the school as administrator was not qualified for the position but when you’re working on shoestring budget you get what you can. In questioning Adam about the paddling’s I learned that it really wasn’t pure behavioral issues. It was behavioral issues that were fueled by his disability. The principle and the teacher had been made aware of Adam’s challenges but I wasn’t given the opportunity to intervene on Adams behalf or even say yes, paddle him. He was paddled because he wasn’t “Normal”. Understand something. I’m not one of those parents who thinks his children are always wonderful and need no correction. I’m not. I believe in corporal punishment. I also didn’t want Adam being treated differently because of his disability. The circumstance surrounding these padding’s is different. Writing this is blog is bringing out all kinds of emotions in me today. I’ve cried and now I feel angry. I am a Christian and I do believe in forgiveness but right this moment I’d love to bend that man over and hit him with a board a few times. Oh by the way. The pastors of that church are precious people to Felicia and me and we do not blame them for Adam’s problems at the school.
When we left that church Adam began attending a public school first grade class. This is when the real educational problems hit us in the face. I was determined that Adam was going to get the same education as everyone else and that no matter how hard we had to work we would succeed. School nights were spent with Felicia and I tag teaming to help Adam with homework which was school work he didn’t finish in class. It was horrible. He didn’t understand and we (knowing he was handicapped) didn’t understand why he didn’t understand. There were lots of tears. Much frustration.
We moved to Opelika Alabama to pastor a church. The first day that Adam was there I received a call from the principle. The First Day! “Mr. Scurlock, we need to have Adam tested to make sure we have him in the right class”. Adam was tested and it was determined that Adam needed to be in the “Special Education” class. It was a hard pill to swallow but one we knew was right. This was the point that we began to accept that all the nurturing in the world wasn’t going to make Adam “Normal”.
Adam loved school. We moved one more time during Adam’s school days. Baker Florida is where Adam finished his schooling. It was a good school but there were still problems.
Adam went through High School in a special education class taught by a precious lady who he still talks about today.
During middle school he played on a community league basketball team which I coached. In this recreational league every kid played at least one quater. Adam usually played the whole game just because he was so much taller than the other kids. He typically played forward because of his height. I watched him for weeks practicing a three point shot and he was getting pretty good at it. He wasn’t able to dribble the ball and move it in a game because of his coordination problems. In our last game, after we had the game well in hand I called a timeout. I instructed the team that Adam would move to guard. I told Adam to make sure he was behind the three point line. I instructed the other guard to pass the ball to Adam. “Adam, don’t dribble just shoot the ball”. The whistle blew the ball was in bounded and then passed to Adam. He broke his knees slightly and took his shot. Nothing but net! Adam hit a three point shot in the game. It was funny because he and I were still celebrating even though the other team had the ball at the other end of the court.
Adam continues to love sports. He plays on our church softball team and can hit the ball reasonably well however he can’t run. His attempt to run is a straight legged gait with little speed. He does run with all his might trying to get to first. If he does make it a pinch runner is put in his place.
I took him to his first Atlanta Braves game when he was about ten. It was the braves worst to first season. John Smoltz pitched that game against the San Francisco Giants. Adam has been a huge John Smoltz and Atlanta Braves fan every since.
He loves Alabama football. Don’t hold that against him. That’s my fault. We lived in Opelika for four years and tickets to Auburn games were easily gotten at the time. The team wasn’t doing well and Pat Dye was on his way out. Even though tickets were easy to come by I refused to ever take Adam to an Auburn game. I knew that if I did he would instantly become an Auburn fan and I just was not going to have that. We have attended some Alabama games through the years and Adam is truly a huge fan.
Adam turned thirty years old today. He still lives with us and receives social security benefits due to the fact that he is disabled according to the social security administration. He tried many jobs. People love him. He just couldn’t stay on task. If he could find a job where the only thing necessary was him talking to people he would be a huge success.
Adam turned thirty years old today. He is a tall man with big hands and an even bigger heart. He loves God. He plays the congas (drums) on the praise team at church. He is Gomer Pyle in our annual production of “Christmas in Mayberry”. He loves people. He never meets a stranger and he will talk your head off if you stand there long enough. He’s a normal looking, handsome man. You have to spend some time with him to start picking up on some of the flags. He has a driver’s license and a pickup truck. He manages his own money. As a matter of fact you can ask him any time and chances are he can tell you to the penny how much money there is in his bank account.
The only thing Adam doesn’t have is a girlfriend. This man wants a girlfriend so bad. He’s so lonely for that. We’ve prayed and still believe that one day a quality, normal lady will fall in love with Adam and he with her and they will walk off into the sunset together. I see men with a fraction of Adam’s personality, looks, manners and godliness with a wife. Surely there is someone for everyone. Adam just has to find his.
Adam loves family. He loves knowing he’s a part of a family. His grandparents are his prize. He loves them all very much. As a matter of fact my father told me that Adam is the only grandchild he has that calls him on a regular basis to check on him.
We live next door to Felicia’s parents and Adam loves to go watch TV with Maw Maw and Paw Paw.
Even though Adam still has some challenges, he is a testimony to the power of God and the power of love. We are people of faith and we believe with all our hearts that Adam is a young man with a touch of healing and the anointing of the Holy Spirit on his life. We also believe that God is not through working on Adam and shaping him into what he wants him to be.
We found out recently that our oldest daughter is expecting a child. Adam is so excited about being an uncle. This is going to be one blessed child to have Adam Scurlock as an uncle.
Adam is a jewel. He’s kind, considerate, loving and so much more. I’m sure if I had the patients I could write a book. Not now. I just wanted to remember thirty years of pain and triumph.
Happy 30th birthday Charles Adam Scurlock.