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Justices uphold termination of mother’s parental rights after years of drug abuse

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The Indiana Supreme Court Wednesday set aside the Court of Appeals order dismissing a Dearborn County mother’s appeal of the termination of her parental rights and took the case. The justices affirmed the decision to end her parental rights to her three children.

The Department of Child Services removed K.T.K., K.C. and K.R.K from mother R.C.’s home and placed them in foster care due to her serious substance abuse issues, which rendered her incapable of providing the necessary care and supervision that the children required. She admitted to having snorted hydrocodone and Xanax at that time, which contributed to the children’s removal, and that she has a serious substance abuse problem. The children’s father was incarcerated during the time at issue in this case.  

The children were at first placed with their paternal grandmother, then bounced around to various placements until ending up with foster parents. The DCS sought to terminate R.C.’s parental rights in 2011 after R.C. was released from her second term in prison and the children had been in DCS’ care for 13 months.

The record reflected her long history of substance abuse problems as well as her history of criminal behavior, which includes incarceration. The trial court found that her substance abuse problem is so severe that she will always be at risk for a relapse, and this finding is supported by the record, the justices ruled. Mother didn’t show up for recommended services to treat her drug problem or for parenting classes. Shortly after being released from incarceration in 2010, she began drinking again, which led to her second incarceration that year.

“It is of no small consequence that evidence presented during the hearing reveals that Mother had not used illegal drugs in approximately 17 months and she had not consumed alcohol in approximately 11 months, resulting in roughly 40 negative drug screens during that time,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote. “We are mindful, however, that the trial court was within its discretion to consider that the first eleven months of her sobriety were spent in prison where she would have not had access to any illegal substances, nor be subjected to the type of stressors — namely the responsibility of maintaining a household and raising three young and active children — that would normally trigger a desire to pursue an escape from the pressures of everyday life that drugs often provide.”

The record also showed that mother had a habitual pattern of exposing her children to her criminal behavior, which detrimentally impacted their psychological, emotional and physical development. In fact, 10-year-old K.T.K. begged the trial court to allow him and his siblings to remain with their foster parents. Termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of the children, the justices concluded in Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: K.T.K., K.C., and K.R.K. (Minor Children), and R.C. (Mother) v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, Dearborn County Office, 15S01-1306-JT-402.

In a separate order, the Supreme Court denied the children’s father’s petition to transfer. His parental rights were also terminated, which was upheld by the COA last year.

 

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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

  2. I was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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