Juvenile Law

Editor:
Shawn R. McCarver, Esquire

The presumption of parental unfitness was not rebutted by Mother and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) is affirmed for parental unfitness where Mother, while having made some progress, continued to suffer from various mental issues, could not provide a safe environment for children, continued to have issues with boundaries and anger management, and was unable to supervise the children during visits. In Interest of D.T.L. and C.J.L., Nos. 32759 and 32760 (Mo. App. S.D., January 27, 2014), Rahmeyer, P.J.

Mother had a previous child in protective custody. Mother did not adequately address concerns related to that child and her parental rights to that child were terminated. The two children at issue in this termination have been in custody since shortly after their birth. Mother’s parental rights to the two children in this case were terminated for abuse/neglect, failure to rectify, and parental unfitness. The evidence showed that Mother attended individual counseling and made progress to a point. The counselor, however, did not feel that Mother was able to provide the necessary safety for a child. Mother had unrealistic expectations and made poor choices resulting in a higher likelihood of safety issues for herself and her children. Mother had issues with boundaries, anger management and her mental condition. One expert testified that Mother’s IQ was below average, that she suffered from a mood disorder, depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, mixed personality with borderline antisocial and paranoid features, and borderline personality disorder. That expert viewed Mother’s prognosis as guarded. That expert’s 2009 evaluation was updated in 2013, at which time Mother’s cognitive ability was slightly lower than in 2009. Mother also suffered from bipolar II disorder. All remaining diagnoses were the same as in 2009. That expert said that Mother’s prognosis was slightly worse than when he evaluated Mother in 2009. A different expert provided psychotherapy to Mother beginning in 2012. That expert said that Mother was less emotional and less overwhelmed, that she had made progress on boundary issues, but that she was continuing to allow people to take advantage of her. That expert was also concerned with Mother’s association with violent men. Several parent aides testified as to Mother’s inability to supervise the children. Based on this evidence, Mother did not overcome the presumption that she remained unfit at the time of trial as set forth in § 211.447.5(6). TPR was shown to be in the best interests of the children.

Held: Termination affirmed.