In re H.R.S., 380 N.C. 728 (2022)

  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated neglected and had some short-term placements with relatives. Eventually, the juvenile was placed with her foster mother. Ultimately, DSS sought the termination of father’s parental rights, which was granted. Father appeals, challenging the court’s determination that the child’s best interests supported the TPR. Father argues the court should have instead prioritized placement with available relatives.
  • There was no abuse of discretion in determining the TPR was in the child’s best interests. The court considered the factors in G.S. 7B-1110(a), including a high likelihood of adoption based on the very strong and high-quality bond between the child and foster parent, and the foster parent’s desire to adopt. The court also considered as a relevant factor the availability of relatives who lived outside of North Carolina and were determined to be suitable as a placement. Those relatives never met with or requested to visit with the juvenile, and father delayed communicating the relatives’ interest in being a placement option. Unlike an A/N/D case where the court is required to consider relative placement, there is no such requirement in a TPR. Instead, relative placement may be a relevant consideration under G.S. 7B-1110(a)(6). An available relative placement is not determinative on the court in a TPR. The court properly balanced the competing interests of preserving the child’s ties with her biological family and achieving permanency for the child that is offered by her prospective adoptive family.
Termination of Parental Rights
Best Interests Findings
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