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Two men team up to raise babies

Mike Parks is the 19-year-old father of a 1-year-old daughter and a new baby son. His wife just died.

Mike and his two children have moved in, at least temporarily, with his father-in-law. The four of them live in a High Point house near Largo. "Two Men and Two Babies." It could be a funny movie. "There's enough fodder for one," said the father-in-law, Scott Terry, 38.

But what has happened in their lives is not funny at all.

Mike's wife, Scottie, who would have turned 21 this Sunday, suffered an epileptic seizure Sept. 18 and was rushed, unconscious, to Morton Plant Hospital. She was 7{ months pregnant; her son, Cory, was delivered the same day, weighing 4 pounds, 10 ounces. She died, comatose, nine days later.

Scottie's father said she had moved here in 1988 to live with him. He helped her get therapy for alcohol and drug abuse, suicidal tendencies and the after-effects of a cult experience. She went to a hair-styling school and graduated at the top of her class. "I couldn't have been any prouder of her if she had become president," he said.

Three years ago she met Mike at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. These two young people straightened out their lives, married and had a baby, Courtney. Mike got a job in telemarketing and Scottie at a hair salon.

"She was a great mother," her dad said.

"She taught me everything I know about children," Mike said.

Now the two men are learning to be mothers as well as fathers.

When he walks in the house after work, Mike said, Courtney wants to be picked up and held all evening. She didn't used to be like that.

"Mike's an incredible father," Scott said. "He's teaching me things. He's an awesome kid."

Mike, a high school dropout, had been working on obtaining his GED but has had to put that on hold. He did, however, acquire a driver's license last week.

Everything is unsettled. Mike is just hanging on until he can sort out where to live and how to get on with his life. Friends and relatives are helping as they can, with Mike's grandmother, Marcey Harriman of Clearwater, leading the way.

"My heart aches for him," she said of Mike. She knows about pain, having lost a 16-year-old son in a motorcycle accident in 1973. Mrs. Harriman and a close friend, Sue Ridenour, visited several stores until the "beautiful people" at the Palm Harbor Wal-Mart store understood their plight and contributed diapers, formula, bottles and baby clothes.

Mrs. Harriman's daughter-in-law, Julie Harriman, works at Fortune Bank in Dunedin, where she established the Scottie Lynn Parks Memorial Fund. Contributions may be sent to the fund at Fortune Bank, 1042 Main St., Dunedin 34698 or dropped off at any Fortune branch.

Mike and his two children spent this past weekend with Julie and Jim Harriman at their Clearwater home. "He is so good with those kids," Julie said Tuesday. "I'm so proud of him."

"The Two Men and Two Babies" may be reached in the evenings at 536-7568.