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Local father fighting for custody of premature daughter

One local father is fighting to get his daughter back. He says she was taken from his care after he reported the child’s mother for alleged drug use. Bryelle is a miracle baby, born at 25 weeks weighing a little more than one pound.

Her father, Bryce Cook, says his childhood pushed him to want to be a good father.

“My dad kind of bounced out, my mom wasn’t the greatest mom and bounced out too. So I was adopted into an unaffectionate family which is a motivation that made me want to become a good dad. My kids are my world, they’re the only family I have,” says Cook.

And his daughter’s early birth pushed him further.

“I made a little pact with God that I would never deny him and I would be the best person I could be if he spared my daughter’s life. There were times in the hospital where I was just so broken.”

Cook says this motivation led him to report drug use that was allegedly going on with Bryelle’s mother.

“I found out she had been doing things, I made a call. I was upset, like how could you do that to a child?”

He didn’t expect what happened next.

“I went to the hospital, and I found out they put her in foster care without my knowing.”

He has an owl-themed room waiting for his daughter.

“I sleep in the nursery so I can look out, instead of being out looking into an empty nursery, it kills me inside. I cry, I cry just thinking about when she’s 18 and has to leave the house again.”

He shared his story in support groups for parents of premature children on Facebook. Cook says he wants to spread a message that every dad should be a good one.

“I think as a parent, the best thing you can do is make sure your kids don’t make the same mistakes you did. I was a mess, I had abandonment issues, I looked for acceptance in the wrong places, I got a bunch of charges and honestly, this is the first time I’ve been acknowledged for doing something good when it’s just something I would just do because it’s the right thing to do.”

Bryelle is currently in the custody of child protective services.

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