In re J.A.J., 381 N.C. 761 (2022)

  • Facts: In 2019, the juveniles were adjudicated neglected and dependent in part due to circumstances involving mother’s substance use and mental health issues and father’s incarceration. DSS filed TPR petitions in 2020. The TPR was granted, and each parent appeals.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(7) authorizes a termination of parental rights when a parent willfully abandons their child for the 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition. A parent’s conduct implies the parent’s willful determination to forego all parental duties and relinquish all parental claims.
  • Incarceration limits a parent’s ability to show an interest in their child but does not excuse a parent from showing that interest by the means that are available. Father had the ability to phone or write letters to his child but never did. The social worker testimony and prior permanency planning orders that were admitted in evidence showed that father had not contacted or sent mail to his child. Evidence father points to regarding his actions fall outside the determinative 6 month window.
Termination of Parental Rights
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