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Uncooperative Mother’s Rights Terminated

The Court of Appeals affirms termination of mother’s parental rights to her two children, ages seven and one-half and six, who are thriving after more than three years in foster care; clear and convincing evidence supports the trial court determination that the children’s best interests are served by terminating mother’s rights.

Mother and her husband have two children born in 2003 and 2005.  In 2008, following an investigation of a complaint relating to mother’s daughter and complaints about parents driving impaired with the children, the local department of human services sought a protective order.  The court ordered testing and both parents tested positive, mother for alcohol and father for marijuana.  The children were removed and placed in foster care.  A service plan for reunification required parents to receive counseling and substance abuse treatment.  The supervising social worker reported mother denied needing counseling and claimed that she and her husband had resolved their differences without therapy.  A psychologist reported the parents fought in front of the children and that mother was “disgusted” but did not consider it a “big deal” that father had shown her genitals to her six year-old daughter while mother was passed out from alcohol.  A local charity terminated funding for mother’s counseling due to her unsatisfactory participation.  Mother’s participation in alcohol abuse treatment was inconsistent.  A home visit disclosed empty wine and beer bottles and parents appeared in court smelling of alcohol in late 2009.  Mother was uncooperative and confrontational during a home visit by the case workers in April 2009:  she tried to close the garage door on them and cursed at one.  A psychologist and social worker reported that the older child said both parents touched her vagina and the child required therapy for depression and attention deficit disorder and exhibited inappropriate sexual behaviors at age 5.  The juvenile and domestic relations (JDR) court terminated parents’ rights in 2010; parents appealed and a hearing was scheduled for May 2011.  Parents lost their home due to financial difficulties and lived in a hotel for most of 2010.  Parents were convicted of property related felonies and incarcerated.  Father dropped his appeal of the termination of his rights.  Mother was released with sentencing pending in July 2011.  She is unemployed and lives in a rented room.  The circuit court affirmed termination of mother’s rights.

On appeal, mother disputes the sufficiency of evidence.  We affirm applying our deferential standard of review for the trial court’s ore tenus determination of the children’s best interests. Both children are thriving in their foster care placement together and the older child has made great progress.  Mother has no plans to divorce husband who is incarcerated and whose rights have been terminated.  Mother has accumulated four criminal convictions in the past two years, three of them felonies.  Section 16.1-283(C)(2) allows termination when a parent fails to remedy the conditions requiring foster care within a reasonable time not to exceed 12 months.  The children here have been in foster care over three years and mother is unable to provide a suitable home for them.  Clear and convincing evidence supports that the children’s best interests are served by terminating mother’s rights.  Affirmed.

Kent v. Virginia Beach Dep’t of Human Servs. (Per Curiam) No. 1104-11-1, Jan. 17, 2012; Virginia Beach Cir. Ct. (Mahan) Richard E. Garriott for appellant; Mark D. Stiles for appellee. VLW 012-7-009(UP), 8 pp.

VLW 012-7-009

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