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COA affirms parental termination in child’s best interest

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A mother’s inability to adequately care for her child, leading to the girl’s failure to thrive, supports the termination of mother’s parental rights, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

In In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of C.W. (Minor Child), and J.W. (Mother), v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 26A01-1303-JT-113, mother J.W. argued she was denied due process during the child in need of services and termination proceedings and that the evidence doesn’t support removing her daughter C.W. Shortly after her birth, C.W. was hospitalized and diagnosed with failure to thrive; she also had apneic episodes when she would stop breathing. The Department of Child Services took custody of the girl and placed her in foster care.

C.W. was alleged to be a CHINS because J.W. cancelled doctor appointments, improperly fed her daughter, and allowed the girl to sleep on her stomach despite the risks. Over the course of 18 months, the mother didn’t significantly improve her skills with feeding her daughter or keeping her safe from household dangers. The trial court granted DCS’ petition to terminate parental rights in February.

J.W. claimed that a social worker told her that C.W. wouldn’t be returned and she should consider termination of parental rights. J.W. argued this led her to believe cooperation with services was “futile” and denied her due process. The appellate court rejected the claim because she did not show she was deprived of the chance to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.

The evidence supports ending J.W.’s parental rights. The evidence shows she was unable to understand C.W.’s needs and develop the necessary skills to satisfy those needs. The mother also didn’t believe she needed intervention by service providers. The findings of fact support that termination of parental rights was in C.W.’s best interests.
 

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  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

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