A Shelby County man has won sole custody of a 5-year-old boy he has been raising since birth and who received national media attention in March when his nanny rescued him from a fire.
J.B. Hawes, 47, is not the biological father of the boy identified as Aden Hawes.
But when Aden was born, his mother, Dazurae Blankenship, 34, of Lexington, asked Hawes to care for him while she was at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women at Pee Wee Valley.
Blankenship was originally convicted of burglary and forgery and released from prison in 2006. She was jailed again briefly and released after a parole violation. Blankenship underwent drug treatment at Lexington's Chrysalis House and lives with her young daughter in an apartment affiliated with the program.
Never miss a local story.
Both she and Hawes have been seeking sole custody of Aden.
A University of Kentucky report, called "Throwaway Moms," recently showed that, for a woman in Kentucky, receiving a jail or prison sentence often means permanently losing custody of a child.
Shelby Circuit Judge John David Myles said in his May 7 ruling that while Hawes had a 1983 conviction for burglary and two DUI convictions, the last in 2005, "they pale in comparison" to Blankenship's record.
"They've magnified my criminal history and completely downplayed his," Blankenship said of the ruling Wednesday.
Blankenship's lawyer, former assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Wohlander, said Wednesday he thinks Blankenship's criminal record was unfairly held against her and he intends to appeal the ruling.
"I'll never stop fighting for him," Blankenship said Wednesday of her son.
Hawes should have sole custody of Aden because he provided "a stable and loving home," the judge said, but he added that Blankenship and Hawes could agree on visitation.
Hawes said Wednesday he wanted Blankenship to have ample visits with Aden.
After Aden's 22-year-old nanny, Alyson Myatt, ran barefoot through flames to save him when Hawes' home caught fire in March, the boy, Hawes and Myatt appeared on national television.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Hawes said Myatt is recovering from injuries received in the fire. Myatt still visits with Aden, he said, but is not currently working as Aden's nanny.
Meanwhile, Hawes said, "I just want people to know that it doesn't take biology to be a good parent."