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Leaving the courtroom, she briefly embraced Gunn, who was weeping, and whispered, “I’m so sorry.” Hamilton later told me, “I did feel sorry for her. ’ ” Hamilton then cancelled her flight, reënrolled Abush in school, and hired a lawyer. Hamilton—an inquiry into whether Abush had two parents or one—began the following week, and was still running in the new year. ” Her life had been put on hold, and her possessions were stuck in a shipping warehouse in New Jersey.The proceedings, which exhumed hundreds of e-mails of love and regret, became an intimate history of a New York romance and its aftermath: a study of what counts as splitting up, what counts as a family, and, in a quiet but stubborn subtext, whether the ability to pay for good dentistry enhances a legal claim to be something more than a godmother. “It’s as if you gave me the keys to your apartment and, suddenly, I’m saying, ‘The apartment is ,’ ” Hamilton told me, bleakly, last fall. Abush had returned to school; Hamilton couldn’t take him out of state without permission.The week before Labor Day, 2016, Circe Hamilton, a freelance photographer in her mid-forties, was preparing to move back to the U. She had begun to think of the city as an obstruction; she had recently struggled to make a living, and felt that she was depriving her young son of a gentler, slower childhood in west London, with access to English relatives, the National Health Service, and muddy playgrounds under gray skies.Hamilton is an American citizen—and, she recently learned, a descendant of Alexander Hamilton—but she grew up in England, sounds English, and has a British passport.At one o’clock on Thursday, Hamilton was at home cleaning, expecting to leave for Fire Island in the evening, when she got a call from a woman who introduced herself as Nancy Chemtob.A New York family and matrimonial lawyer, Chemtob founded her own firm in her twenties; in the two and a half decades since, she has represented such clients as Bobby Flay, Star Jones, and Diandra Douglas, the ex-wife of Michael Douglas, in divorce proceedings.The two women remained in close contact, and a year after Abush arrived Gunn became his godmother.Despite some friction between the women about the meaning of that role, Gunn and Abush developed a strong bond.
After the separation, Hamilton continued to pursue the process.
The apartment is modern, with glossy dark floors and a wall of windows.
Gunn had become wealthy by supplying Apple with display fixtures for its stores; she had run her own design company, and had been a partner in another.
Circe Hamilton (top) adopted her son a year and a half after she broke up with Kelly Gunn (bottom), but the women remained close, and Gunn became the boy’s godmother.
That relationship formed part of the debate about what constitutes parenthood.