In re T.T., 379 N.C. 317 (2021)

  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated neglected in 2014 due to circumstances involving inappropriate supervision, domestic violence, and an injurious environment. Ultimately reunification efforts with mother were ceased and guardianship and custody were ordered as the permanent plans. The case continued with regular permanency planning hearings. The court repeatedly found mother had not consistently engaged in her services, which included parenting classes and domestic violence, substance use, and mental health treatment. In 2018, the primary permanent plan was changed to adoption, when the juvenile expressed a desire to be adopted by her foster parents who were willing to adopt her. DSS filed a TPR petition, which was granted. Mother appealed, challenging the grounds.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) authorizes a TPR when a parent has (1) willfully left the juvenile in foster care placement for more than 12 months and (2) has failed to make reasonable progress under the circumstances to correct the conditions that led to the juvenile’s removal. The trial court must apply a 2-step analysis to address each prong.
  • Mother does not challenge the findings but instead argues they do not support the conclusion that mother failed to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions. A parent’s compliance with a case plan is relevant when determining whether a parent made reasonable progress. Although all elements of the case plan do not need to be satisfied, the court has authority to determine extremely limited progress supports the TPR. Here, the court found mother did not complete any of the programs required by her case plan and did not make significant progress. The argument that the court of appeals in two prior opinions held lack of compliance with a case plan should be overlooked is misplaced (examining In re Y.Y.E.T., 205 N.C. App. 120 (2010) and In re D.A.H.-C., 227 N.C. App. 489 (2013) both of which affirmed the TPR on the ground of neglect). Mother did not comply with any aspect of her case plan.
Termination of Parental Rights
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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