In re C.J., 373 N.C. 260 (2020)

  • Facts: Child was adjudicated dependent. Respondent mother was ordered to complete a diagnostic therapeutic assessment and substance abuse assessment and follow all recommendation; complete drug screens; obtain and maintain verifiable employment and stable housing suitable for the child; and communicate with DSS. After failing to make progress on her case plan, the court ordered a primary permanent plan of adoption. DSS filed a TPR, which was granted in part on the ground of failing to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions that led to the child’s removal (G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2). Respondent mother appeals.
  • Review of challenged findings: Findings of fact that respondent mother challenged as being unsupported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence were not necessary to support the court's conclusion that a ground to TPR existed and were not addressed on appeal. The appellate court reviews only those findings that are necessary to support a determination that TPR grounds existed.
  • Case Plan Nexus to Conditions Leading to Removal: Quoting In re B.O.A., 831 S.E.2d 305, 314 (N.C. S.Ct. 2019), “a trial court’s conclusion on this ground [G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2)] is supported when there exists ‘a nexus between the components of the court-approved case plan with which respondent-mother failed to comply and the ‘conditions which led to [the juvenile’s] removal from the parental home.’ ” Sl.Op at 5. The adjudication and dispositional orders found the child’s removal was based on mother leaving the child with her (mother’s) boyfriend after she was arrested and extradited to Mississippi because of drug-trafficking and stolen weapons charges. Mother had an extensive history with the Mississippi child protective agency, which had an open case because of allegations mother used the child to obtain drugs. Mother’s demeanor at the hearing raised concerns by the court that she was under the influence or suffering from a mental health condition. These findings established the required nexus. The findings that mother did not address any part of her case plan or visit with her child was supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and support the court’s conclusion that G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) existed for TPR.
Termination of Parental Rights
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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