In re J.H., 373 N.C. 264 (2020)

  • Facts: Four children were adjudicated abused and neglected. The court ordered respondent mother to engage in a case plan – complete a mental health assessment and follow all recommendations, maintain employment  and appropriate and safe housing for a minimum of 6 months, participate in parent coaching and implement the skills during visits, and sign necessary release forms for the court and DSS to monitor her progress. At a permanency planning hearing, the court ordered concurrent plans of adoption and reunification with the children’s fathers. Respondent mother preserved the right to appeal this permanency planning order (PPO). Mother’s rights were subsequently terminated, and she appealed both the PPO and TPR. The TPR appeal is limited to the dispositional determination that TPR was in the children’s best interests.
  • TPR, BIC, and Likelihood of Adoption: The trial court did not abuse its discretion when determining the TPR was in each of the 4 children’s best interests. The trial court made findings of each factor in G.S. 7B-1110(a) and specifically addressed the likelihood of each child’s adoption. Each child has significant development delays, but “general truths” about the difficulty of placing children with behavior challenges and/or developmental delays and children in foster care with adoptive families “cannot overcome the particularized evidence … supporting the trial court’s factual findings that each of these children had a high probability of being adopted.” Sl.Op. at 14-15. The court found that one child was placed with his biological father and there was a strong likelihood of a stepparent adoption by the father’s wife. One child was placed in a specialized facility and the grandmother had expressed an interest in adopting him. One child was placed in his prospective adoptive home and has a good relationship with the prospective adoptive parent. One child had multiple families who were interested in adopting her. All of the children were thriving in their placements and were benefitting from not being in their mother’s custody.
Termination of Parental Rights
Best Interests Findings
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