Single Black Dad: You Can't Take My Child

After his daughter's mother died, a father struggled to win a custody fight with her parents.

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The Fight Began at His Baby's Birth

The process began the day Cydney came into the world.

After giving birth, Brown kept experiencing persistent stomach pains, as she had during her pregnancy, and she insisted that doctors look into it. A slew of tests, X-rays and a biopsy discovered a tumor perched at the bottom of her esophagus and another in the upper portion of her stomach. Stage 4 cancer of this type usually plagues older people, like Robert Kardashian (the late patriarch of the Kardashian clan) and everyone's favorite neighbor, Mister Rogers -- not a 25-year-old woman.

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Brown's three-day maternity stay turned into a six-week stint because of the cancer discovery, and Milner moved into the hospital to care for his daughter. "He changed the baby's diapers in the nursery when they would bring the baby in the intensive care unit because Cydney was a preemie," says Cathy Mumford, Milner's mother.

The couple was told that she had a 20 percent chance of surviving; she began to receive treatment at a cancer center in Buffalo, N.Y. Daddy day care was in full swing. "Chad would get off of work, play with Cydney, feed her, change her diapers. He would be up at nights," says Kim Thompson, Brown's cousin, who lives in Buffalo. "Timile was going through the cancer and could hardly do anything at the time."

In a post on her Facebook page during that time, Brown wrote, "Feeling better today. A little more energy today. Mommy put Cydney to bed last night and was very proud. Bonding time!! This has usually been Daddy's job. And he's so good with her!"

"By mid-March [the cancer] had spread throughout her abdomen. By April the doctor said it was all over up to her neck," Milner said. Brown, who was 5 feet 5 inches, was down to 88 pounds.

In October they moved to Virginia to be near Brown's mother -- Brown had began to repair that relationship -- but that's when things went south, both with Brown's health and with Milner's ability to see his fiancée and daughter. Although the couple had initially planned to stay in an apartment about 30 minutes from Brown's mother, Brown began to stay with her mother much more frequently as she got sicker and was in and out of the hospital.

However, Milner said that a feeling began to gnaw away at him. He believed that a plan was being put into action to make it appear as if Brown did not have a fiancée or a partner in the picture. He was encouraged to visit Brown in the hospital for small periods of time and during specific hours, when "a lot of people weren't around," he said.