In re C.B., 375 N.C. 556 (2020)

  • Facts: The district court entered an order that terminated respondent mother’s parental rights to her five children. This is an appeal by respondent mother, challenging the termination of her parental rights to her oldest child by arguing the court failed to make the necessary findings of fact under G.S. 7B-1110(a) to support its conclusion that termination was in that child’s best interests.  
  • Standard of review for the dispositional stage regarding best interests is whether the trial court abused its discretion. Dispositional findings must be supported by competent evidence.
  • The court addressed the finding of the child’s likelihood of adoption when it found that the child’s likelihood of adoption was unknown. The court does not need to find the child is likely to be adopted to terminate parental rights.
  • Although the child had significant mental health issues, the trial court’s finding that there were no barriers to adoption other than TPR was supported by competent evidence including the social worker’s testimony that the child was improving and was likely to step down from a therapeutic foster home to a traditional foster care setting which DSS would seek to make a foster-to-adopt placement. Further, a lack of a proposed adoptive placement does not bar a TPR.
  • The 12-year-old child’s consent to adoption as required by G.S. 48-3-601 may be waived by the trial court such “that the trial court was not required to make findings and conclusions concerning the extent, if any, to which [the child was] likely to consent to any adoption that might eventually be proposed.” Sl.Op. at 9.
  • Regarding the bond between the child and parent, “[t]here is no requirement that the trial court make a specific finding that the parent’s relationship with the child was detrimental before it can terminate parental rights.” Sl.Op. at 10.
  • This case is distinguishable from In re J.A.O., which reversed a TPR for a child with significant mental health needs. In this case, unlike J.A.O., the GAL recommended adoption, the mother did not make reasonable progress, and the child’s condition was improving. Further the appellate court will not reweigh the evidence and substitute its judgment for that of the trial court. Here the court made a reasoned decision, after considering the relevant statutory criteria, to terminate mother’s parental rights. That decision was supported by competent evidence and is not an abuse of discretion.
Termination of Parental Rights
Best Interests Findings
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