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Boy sues to leave parents

TAVARES, Fla. -- An 11-year-old boy is suing for divorce from his parents.

The suit filed by lawyer Jerri Blair for the youngster, identified only as Gregory K., says he wants to be free of both of his separated natural parents so he can be adopted into a foster home.

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The suit says the central Florida boy once tearfully told a social worker all he wants 'is a place to be.'

According to court records, Gregory has been passed from an abusive, alcoholic father, to a neglectful mother, to a foster home, back to his mother, to another foster home, to a boys' ranch and finally to the foster home where he wants to stay.

His latest foster parents have eight children of their own, but they want to make Gregory their ninth.

Blair said the bespectacled fifth-grader is now making A's and B's in school.

'I've done a lot of these cases, and I've never ever seen a child who didn't want to go home to his parents,' Blair said. 'Now he has a family that really wants him and loves him and gives him a secure place to live. I can't think of a better place for him.'

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Jane Carey, who represents Gregory's natural mother, Rachel K., disagreed, sayingthe case presents a potentially dangerous precedent that threatens fundamental family principles.

'This is shocking,' Carey said. 'Our whole thrust in Florida is to reunite the family if at all possible. Every child goes through a rebellious stage. If a child can choose his parents, then the parents should be able to decide and choose their children.'

Carey said Rachel is 'a working mother trying to keep her head above water in a recession.'

'She is very intelligent, warm-hearted. She's appalled and hurt that her son would be suing her. She loves her child,' Carey said.

Florida legal experts say the case might be the first of its kind in the nation and could turn out to be a test case.

'We have a well-recognized constitutional right of the parents to control the custody of children,' said Wendy Fitzgerald, assistant professor of law at the University of Florida.

She said the suit could help 'transform the legal view of a child from something akin to to the property of parents to human beings with their own rights.'

Tom Manning, executive director of the Lake County Boys Ranch, describes Gregory as 'exceptionally bright and mature,' and approves of the suit.

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'It's time we recognized that children are born with unalienable rights,' Manning said.

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