In re A.M., 377 N.C. 220 (2021)

  • Facts: In 2017, the children were adjudicated neglected. The parents were ordered to comply with a case plan to address issues involving substance use, housing, income, domestic violence, mental health, and criminal activity. DSS filed a motion to terminate the parents’ rights. At permanency planning hearings the court found that progress made by either parent was short-lived. The TPR hearing was held in 2020, and the parents’ rights were terminated. Mother appeals, challenging the grounds and best interests.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) authorizes a TPR on the ground of willfully leaving the juvenile in foster care for 12 or more months and failing to make reasonable progress under the circumstances to correct the conditions that led to the juvenile’s removal. The reasonableness of the parent’s progress is evaluated up to the time of the TPR hearing. A parent’s compliance with a court ordered case plan is relevant in the determination. Progress must be reasonable; extremely limited progress will support this ground.
  • Mother’s progress was not reasonable. Although mother obtained a structurally safe and appropriate residence, unchallenged findings show mother continued to struggle with substance use and that there were repeated acts of domestic violence. These issues led to the removal of the children from her care.
Termination of Parental Rights
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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