In re A.S.D., 2021-NCSC-94

  • Facts: A petition was filed in 2018, and the juvenile was adjudicated neglected and dependent in 2019. In 2020, DSS filed a TPR motion, which was granted. Mother appeals, challenging the grounds.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) authorizes a TPR on the ground that a parent willfully left the child in foster care for 12 months immediately preceding the petition and failed to make reasonable progress under the circumstances. A parent’s willfulness is “established when the [parent] had the ability to show reasonable progress, but was unwilling to make the effort.” Sl.Op. ¶10.
  • The findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence and support the conclusion that mother failed to make reasonable progress. The court found mother had a significant substance abuse history and received inadequate treatment for that issue. Mother stipulated to the neglect petition allegations, which included her extensive history of polysubstance use; the DSS social worker testified to mother’s history and failure to complete the treatment; the psychological evaluation addressed mother’s history and refusal to take some drug screens. Unchallenged findings and mother’s admission at the TPR hearing support the finding that mother had a transient lifestyle.
  • Although the court found mother had recent stability, it found that was not outweighed by her year of instability, which was a permissible inference the court could make. Although mother made some progress on her case plan just before the TPR hearing, the court acted within its authority to determine the improvements mother made were insufficient given the historical facts of the case.
Termination of Parental Rights
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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