Gameboy Gregory 'divorces' mother

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GREGORY Kingsley, the first American child to 'divorce' his mother, was beginning a new life yesterday as Sean Russ.

Gregory or Sean, 12, was granted his wish by Judge Thomas Kirk in Orlando, Florida, after a two-day hearing. The court ended the parental rights of his mother, Rachel Kingsley, 30, an unemployed waitress, after accepting the boy's arguments that he had been abandoned and neglected throughout his life.

Judge Kirk also granted an adoption request by the boy's foster parents, George and Lizabeth Russ, who had encouraged him to bring the case. Gregory told the court he wanted in future to be known as Sean, as a sign that he was starting a new life.

The boy, speaking often with a slight grin, said his mother had twice placed him in foster homes after promising him he would stay with her. 'I thought she forgot about me,' he said. 'I figured that if she breaks her promise, she doesn't care much.' When not on the witness stand, Gregory sat in the courtroom taking notes or playing with a Nintendo Gameboy computer.

Ms Kingsley said she had given up Gregory for foster care for economic and bureaucratic reasons. She claimed she had been prevented from getting in touch with him during the past year by his foster parents.

Other witnesses said Ms Kingsley drank excessively, used drugs and lived in a violent household. Judge Kirk said it was in Gregory's 'manifest best interest' that his rights as an individual be asserted over Ms Kingsley's rights as a mother. Her lawyers said they would appeal.

The case attracted intense interest in the US, in part because it paralleled some of the 'family values' arguments raised by the presidential race. Republicans point to Gregory's story as an example of the kind of anti-family meddling which would be encouraged by Hillary Clinton - a children's rights activist - if her husband becomes president.

Mr Russ said he had received calls from 15 film and television producers interested in making a movie about the case. He said Gregory had hired a lawyer to negotiate with Hollywood.