A Nasty Custody Fight May Rewrite Definition of 'Parent'

'New Yorker' takes a long look at dispute between 2 women who are ex-partners
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2017 4:24 PM CDT
A Nasty Custody Fight May Rewrite Definition of 'Parent'

The New Yorker is devoting a great deal of space to a custody dispute, but the reason becomes clear soon enough. As the headline on Ian Parker's piece puts it, the outcome just might "redefine the legal meaning of family." The case pits Circe Hamilton, in her mid-40s, against ex-partner Kelly Gunn, in her early 50s. When they were still a couple in 2009, they began the process of trying to adopt an overseas child, and Hamilton kept the process going on her own when the two split up. In 2011, she adopted a toddler from Ethiopia named Abush, and Gunn became his godmother. Abush and Gunn would develop a "strong bond," writes Parker. Flash forward to 2016, when Hamilton, a freelance photographer, decided to move back to her native England with Abush. On the eve of her departure, Gunn stunned Hamilton by declaring herself a co-parent and going to court to stop the trip. It worked.

The story details not only the intricacies of the relationships between the two women and Abush, but the still-murky case law surrounding such cases. In April, a judge ruled against Gunn, deciding that Hamilton had proven that their plan to adopt a child together had been terminated before Abush came along. The case is now going to appellate court, however, meaning that Hamilton and Abush remain in New York City. (The court has the boy's passports.) “This guy doesn’t get to tell me I’m not Abush’s parent," says Gunn of the judge. Hamilton, meanwhile, is incredulous. “It’s as if you gave me the keys to your apartment and, suddenly, I’m saying, ‘The apartment is mine,’” she said at one point. “What the f---? Where does it end?” Click to read the full story, which has background on the other cases that have a bearing on this one. (More Longform stories.)

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