The teenage son of a Central Kentucky surrogate mother and a gay man whose arrangement received widespread publicity in 2004 will remain in the sole custody of his stepfather, but he can now reconnect with his biological father.
That’s the outline of a custody agreement reached in Woodford Family Court recently regarding the 14-year-old boy, was who being raised by the surrogate mother, Brooke Cochran, and her husband, Scott Cochran before her death. Brooke Cochran died unexpectedly in November 2016 at age 37 from chronic drug abuse.
After Brooke’s death, Scott Cochran went to court to get guardianship of the boy, his attorney said. The boy’s biological father, Thomas Dysarz, also sought custody after a 10-year absence. Dysarz and his attorney have maintained that Brooke Cochran prevented him from seeing his son, a contention that her family disputes.
Because the agreement was reached, a final custody hearing was avoided, said Cochran’s attorney, Greg Kujawski.
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Dysarz, who lives in Texas, told the Herald-Leader that after the agreement was reached in late October 2017, he was able to spend some time with his son in Central Kentucky.
“We had a great time together. He said he missed me a lot and is very excited and anxious about being with his father,” Dysarz said in a social media message
The boy is not being named because he is a minor.
According to a court-ordered custodial evaluation by an attorney independent of either side, it was the initial intention of Brooke Cochran and Dysarz for the boy to be raised by Dysarz. But after the baby was born, she sought more time with the child. The boy had lived with Brooke Cochran since he was a toddler when Dysarz had become ill and had moved out of state. Dysarz told the Herald-Leader in a 2017 interview that before Cochran died, he had no knowledge of his son’s whereabouts.
Before Dsyarz and Brooke Cochran made the surrogate arrangement, she was a surrogate for his then-partner Michael Meehan. Meehan and Cochran had quadruplets in 2002 who now live with Meehan in California. The quadruplets’ in-vitro fertilization and birth was highly publicized in newspapers and network television. A court ruled that Dysarz had no legal standing with the quadruplets.
Just 10 months after the quadruplets’ birth, Brooke became pregnant with the boy who has been the focus of the recent custody battle.
The court agreement says that Dysarz “will have reasonable visitation under the guidance and in the discretion of a family reunification counselor.” That was recommended by a friend of the court evaluation.
The October 2017 friend of the court recommendation, which was based on interviews with the teen, the Cochran family and Dysarz, suggested that Scott Cochran get custody and that a counselor help with the reunification between Dysarz and the boy because the teen didn’t remember his biological father.
Under the agreement, if the boy is agreeable and the counselor determines that he is ready, the teen may visit his father both in Kentucky and outside the state and may communicate with him via phone, social media and internet. The teen’s stepfather must communicate with Dysarz regarding the teen’s progress in school, extracurricular activities and overall well-being as part of the agreement.
“We locked in place communication ... so the two could build a relationship and get to know each other,” said Joshua McWilliams, Dysarz’s attorney.
Since about 2010, when Dysarz was approved for disability payments, his son has received $1,100 a month from Dysarz in child support, the Herald-Leader has reported.
The friend of the court report said that the boy’s school, doctors, church and the only extended family he has ever known were in Kentucky, and that’s one reason he should remain with Scott Cochran.
The report said that the boy had a close relationship with Brooke Cochran’s three adult children, his siblings who live in Central Kentucky.
McWilliams, Dysarz’s attorney, said Wednesday that both his and Kujawski’s attitude was that “it’s always better to have more people that love you.”
“Ultimately, that principle won out the day.”