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Placement with grandma not in child’s best interest

Rebecca M. Lightle//September 7, 2018

Placement with grandma not in child’s best interest

Rebecca M. Lightle//September 7, 2018

In terminating a father’s parental rights, the circuit court did not err in finding that relative placement with the father’s mother would be detrimental to the child due to the possibility that she would permit the father to live with them if released from prison. Meanwhile, the child was placed and doing well with more distant relatives.


In 2009, Appellant Mark Bishop was convicted of the rape and aggravated sexual battery of his biological child, K.K. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison. In 2016, another of his children, H.N., entered foster care and then relative placement with the Farmer family, cousins of H.N.’s biological mother.

H.N. describes “with joy and pride the relationships and rituals she has established with her cousins” and refers to Mrs. Farmer as “mom.” Case workers reported that the Farmers “demonstrated their ability to provide a safe, stable and loving home for H.N.”

Bishop’s mother, Ellen, testified that if her son won his appeal regarding his rape conviction and were released, he would return to her home, and she would allow him to be around his children. Ellen testified that she had no contact with H.N. for the first five or six years of H.N.’s life because paternity was uncertain, but she saw H.N. often in the following five or six years before H.N.’s foster placement.

The circuit court terminated Bishop’s parental rights, approved the goal of adoption, and found that relative placement with Ellen would not be in H.N.’s best interest. Bishop has appealed.

Relative placement

The circuit court thoughtfully considered relative placement for H.N. and found that placement with Ellen was not in H.N.’s best interests. Mr. Farmer testified that H.N. was doing very well at his home and that he was willing and qualified to care for and provide a suitable home for H.N.  The circuit court saw placement with Ellen as a great risk since she would allow Bishop to live with her and contact his children if he were released from prison. The circuit court also found that another living adjustment for H.N. would be damaging in itself, since she was doing well in her current situation.

Because the circuit court did not err in finding that placement with Ellen was not in her best interests, the court need not address Bishop’s arguments regarding any statutory preference for certain relatives over others.


Bishop v. Albemarle Cty. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Record No. 1635-17-2, Aug. 28, 2018. CAV (Humphreys), from Albemarle Cir. (Higgins). Christopher C. Graham for Appellant; Amanda E.B. Farley for Appellee. VLW No. 018-7-224, 5 pp.

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