In re E.S., 378 N.C. 8 (2021)

  • Facts: This is an appeal by mother and father of the best interests determination to TPR; there is no challenge to the TPR grounds adjudication. Mother’s appeal involves her 15-year-old child; her appeal regarding the younger child was abandoned because she did not present any arguments about that child in her brief. Father’s appeal involves the younger sibling only.
  • After adjudicating a ground to TPR, the court moves to the dispositional stage where it must consider the factors set out in G.S. 7B-1110(a). Written findings are required for relevant factors, and a factor is relevant when there is conflicting evidence of that factor that placed it as an issue before the trial court.
  • Regarding the likelihood of adoption, G.S. 7B-1110(a) does not require the court to consider whether the juvenile who is 12 or older will consent to their adoption. The requirement for a juvenile’s consent to their adoption is in G.S. 48-3-601(1), which “is found in an entirely separate chapter of the General Statutes of North Carolina.” 378 N.C. at 13. The question before the district court is whether the TPR is in the child’s best interests, and the court does not abuse its discretion by making that finding solely because a 12-year-old or older juvenile is not interested in being adopted. The court is not required to expressly consider the juvenile’s consent to adoption, and in this case there was no evidence that the 15-year-old juvenile was not interested in adoption or would not consent to her adoption.
  • Regarding the bond between the juvenile and her mother, the evidence that the child had a bond with her mother was uncontested. The finding was, therefore, not relevant. Further, the bond between a child and parent is one factor for the court to consider, and the court had discretion to give greater weight to other factors.
  • Regarding a possible relative placement, the court is not “expressly directed to consider the availability of a relative placement in the course of deciding a termination of parental rights proceeding.” 378 N.C. at 15. Here, the court made findings, which show the possible relative placement would not be appropriate given the juvenile’s bond with the family she was currently placed with who wished to adopt her and the possible interference with the proposed relative placement by father.
Termination of Parental Rights
Best Interests Findings
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