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In his order, the judge said there was “a great deal of strife” between the two women. Dr. Clark had argued that Miss McLeod should not have joint custody because she was not interested in the adoption while it was taking place and that it was never their intention that she would act as a parent.

“Elsey never adopted this child. It’s an egregious situation because the court is giving custody to someone who is not related to the child and has not adopted the child,” Mr. Staver said.

The girl spent more than seven years as part of Miss McLeod’s life, however, prompting Judge Coughlin to rule it would be in the best interest of the child for joint parenting to continue.

If his ruling stands, it could affect Christian parents across the nation, said Mr. Staver. “These things progressively build on one another, so we’re trying to stop this before it goes any further.”