In the Matter of A.D.S. — Termination of Parental Rights

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of A.D.S. and A.S (minor children) and L.S. (mother) v.s. the Indiana Department of Child Services, ___ N.E.2d ___  (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to support terminating the mother’s parental rights to the children.  As with any termination of parental rights (TPR) case, the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of parents to raise their children.  U.S. Const. amend. XIV; In re C.G., 954 N.E.2d 910, 923 (Ind. 2011).  TPR should not be based solely on the fact that there is a better home available for the children, but may occur when the parent is “unable or unwilling” to meet his or her parental responsibilities.  In re K.S., 750 N.E.2d 832, 836-37 (Ind.Ct.App. 2001).

The mother had a long history of mental instability and drug use, including self-harming behavior.  She tested positive for cocaine usage while pregnant with A.S.  During the pendency of the CHINS case, the mother missed drug screens, allegedly tampered with drug screens, failed to comply with drug treatments programs, and was convicted of multiple crimes, including prostitution and domestic battery.  The court noted in a footnote that the mother previously had her rights involuntarily terminated to two older children due to cocaine use and instability, plus a voluntary termination of parental rights to a third child.

The children have been placed in a pre-adoptive foster home since October 2011, and, according to testimony, they have been improving since being placed in that long-term foster home.  The Court noted that “[p]ermanency is a central consideration in determining the best interests of a child.”  In re G.Y., 904 N.E.2d 1257, 1265 (Ind. 2009).

The Court found that there was sufficient evidence that there is a reasonable probability that the reasons for the children’s removal outside the home will not be remedied and termination of parental rights is in the children’s best interest, given that the mother’s history of domestic violence and substance abuse poses a threat to the safety of the children if they were returned to the mother’s care.

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