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A Tribute to David Somerset Tudor Adlam


by his father, Tim Adlam


David Somerset Tudor Adlam was born 15 weeks early at 7:05pm on the 3rd of March, 2005 in Oxford. He died about fifteen minutes later, just before the birth of Jonathan, his twin brother. David had anencephaly, a condition which prevented his brain from developing and left him unable to live once outside his mother's womb. This is a tribute to David. It was written for his funeral which was on the 29th March 2005.


Let me tell you a story about a son and his father. As a pot begins to exist in the mind of its potter before it is thrown, much more so this son began to exist in the mind of his Creator before the universe began. His life began at his conception in October 2004. He lived a secure and happy life inside his mum, Lisa, with his brother. His mum and dad thought that the two boys were just one baby that seemed to be growing quicker than their big sister had. His mum, Lisa, had had a bit of trouble with her thyroid gland whilst carrying his big sister, Kathryn, so she had to visit the Silver Star unit in the big hospital in Oxford for a checkup.


During the first visit on January 20th, one of the midwives decided that mum was a bit big for her weeks and that they would do a quick ultrasound scan. Meanwhile Dad and Kathryn were both at home with flu, trying to sleep. The phone rang and they woke up suddenly. An unknown voice introduced herself as one of the Silver Star midwives and informed dad that "it's twins". I was very happy – I was hoping for twins – then the midwife said 'but'.

She went on to say that there was a problem with one of the twins, Lisa was very upset, and that I should get to the hospital as soon as possible.

The journey in a taxi to the hospital was one of the longest I have ever made. I was faced with many possible outcomes. Did the twin have spina bifida? Did it have some other congenital deformity? Did it have Downs Syndrome? My thoughts about what the future might hold were turbulent. I made again a decision I have made many times since we decided to have children. In Proverbs it says that children are a blessing from God. This child would be a blessing that I would love to the best of my ability until I could do so no longer. God is teaching me to be a son and a father, and a disabled child would present me with the greatest opportunity to express my love and my fatherhood.

On the way, I explained to Kathryn that mummy was very sad and that she needed a big hug when we got to the hospital. Kathryn did exactly this when we got there and I'm very proud of her. When we arrived at the hospital, I was met by a consultant who explained that one of the twins had anencephaly and was not expected to live more than a few days at most. Anencephaly is always lethal. I went in to see Lisa, she explained what had happened and we went home. I was numb for the weekend. I felt nothing.


On the following Monday we visited the hospital again for a diagnostic ultrasound scan. The diagnosis was confirmed, and a midwife and paediatrician explained to us what we could expect, and the complications caused by anencephaly. We also discovered that we were expecting 2 boys. Knowing that we had only a little time with one of our children, we decided to name them both as soon as possible.


On the Tuesday, I decided to go back to work, having taken the Monday off. Lisa was on a course so I dropped Kathryn off with Tom and Leila and went home. I was going to get straight on the 09:10 train, but felt that I should stay and spend a bit of quiet time before joining the race to work. I sat down with my Bible and began to read and pray. I read Psalms about children and difficult times, from Habakkuk about worshipping God in the face of calamity, and from Job about loss and acceptance. I told God what had happened. I cried, and on a new page at the beginning of a new diary I wrote what I thought. I wrestled with the humanity of my child with no brain. Was he dead or alive? Was he a person? If God thought of him before the universe began, then to God he was a person. His body was deformed, his mind never formed, but his spirit: his humanity, his creation in God's image, was alive. He was a person and he needed a name. I named him David – God's beloved and my beloved. He would never feel my touch, see my face, smell my sweat or hear my voice: I could not be a father to him in any way that he could perceive. Even in this time I was faced with another choice: did I believe that God is his Father and mine? Will I meet him with his Great Father when I die? I chose to believe. Having made this choice, I could rest, and entrust his care to his Great Father who loves him and cares for him more than I ever could. I had acknowledged him as a person, created by God in his image. I had entrusted God with the care of my son, whom I shall not know until I die. I had decided to trust in God's goodness through all that Lisa and I were facing together. I had hope instead despair; peace instead of fear; and faith instead of doubt. This was not the end. In 1 Corinthians 15 it says:

"Now when this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 [NIV]

I laughed in the face of death. Because of Jesus, death is not the end. When I die, I shall meet my perfected son. Through my pain, I am becoming a person I could not become in any other way. I am understanding things I cannot understand in any other way. God has honoured me by allowing me to walk through this with Him. I will never be the same person again, and neither do I want to be. In loss I have discovered great riches. In pain, I have discovered the source of all comfort. Thank you, Father, for David.

Lisa gave birth to David on the 3rd of March at 7:05 in the evening, 15 weeks early, and weighed 474g. He died in my arms about fifteen minutes later, having held my finger in his hand. Shortly afterwards, his brother Jonathan was born, weighing 696g, but that's another story still in the making.

(Note added February 2007: Jonathan was discharged from hospital on the 2nd of July 2005. He is now a happy 23 month old little boy that is full of energy and life.)

Tim Adlam

Tim can be contacted trough the webmaster



Read Anencephaly thoughts from a 'sideways stakeholder' written by David's aunt



Last updated July 10, 2019