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In re Welfare of D.L.R.D.

February 04, 2003

IN THE MATTER OF THE WELFARE OF: D. L. R. D., A/K/A D. L. R. H., CHILD.


Itasca County District Court File No. J40250072

Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Minge, Judge, and Wright, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. A parent whose parental rights to a previous child have been involuntarily terminated is presumed to be palpably unfit to parent a subsequent child and has the burden of rebutting that presumption.

2. In a termination-of-parental-rights proceeding, where the district court determines that the parental rights to another child have been involuntarily terminated, the social services agency is not required to develop a case plan and make reasonable efforts to reunite the parent and child.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wright, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellant challenges the termination of her parental rights, arguing that (1) she rebutted the statutory presumption that she is palpably unfit, (2) the county failed to develop a case plan and make reasonable attempts to reunite appellant with her child, and (3) the record does not show that it is in the child's best interests to terminate appellant's parental rights. We affirm.

FACTS

While this case concerns the termination of appellant D.D.'s parental rights to D.L.R.D., her fourth child, D.D.'s actions regarding the first three children born to her are relevant. In 1995, D.D.'s parental rights to her first two children were involuntarily terminated based on the determination that she was palpably unfit to parent these children. After having a third child, W.H., in 2000, D.D. applied for economic assistance from Itasca County. As a result, Itasca County Health and Human Services (ICHHS), aware of the prior terminations, twice contacted D.D. to offer her parenting assistance. D.D. refused this assistance. Instead, she took W.H. to New Jersey, where she placed him in the care of one of her sisters. Because W.H. was abused while in his aunt's home, a second sister removed W.H. from the abusive home and, in 2001, successfully petitioned a New York court for legal custody of W.H. D.D. has neither visited W.H. nor provided him with any financial support since she left him in New Jersey in 2000.

When D.D. became pregnant with her fourth child, D.L.R.D., ICHHS again attempted to offer services to D.D. On August 10, 2001, an Itasca County social worker sent D.D. a letter requesting that she contact ICHHS, which she declined to do. The Occupational Development Center, an agency to which D.D. had been referred, offered her services to help her obtain a driver's license, job-seeking skills, and housing assistance. D.D. failed to use any of these services.

D.L.R.D. was born on December 22, 2001. After D.L.R.D.'s birth, an Itasca County social worker stopped by D.D.'s home to speak with her about social services. Finding no one at home, the social worker left a note on D.D.'s door. D.D. later alleged falsely that the social worker unlawfully entered her home, stole baby formula, and turned off the heat. On January 18, 2002, based on the involuntary termination of D.D.'s parental rights to her first two children, ICHHS removed D.L.R.D. from D.D.'s home.

On February 28, 2002, ICHHS and the Itasca County Attorney petitioned the district court to terminate D.D.'s parental rights to D.L.R.D. Because of the prior involuntary termination, ICHHS moved the district court to be relieved of its duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify D.D. with D.L.R.D. The district court granted this motion, finding that D.D. was presumed to be palpably unfit as a parent because her parental rights to her first two children had been involuntarily terminated.

A hearing on the termination petition was held in April 2002. The evidence established that D.D. attended all but two supervised visits with D.L.R.D. and attended half of the parenting classes in which she had enrolled with the assistance of her attorney. D.D. had two psychological evaluations and was diagnosed with an unspecified personality disorder, presenting prominent antisocial and paranoid features and possible schizotypal features. D.D. was taking prescribed medication daily to address ...


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