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In re Welfare of Child of K. R.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

October 21, 2013

In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: K. R., Parent.


Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-JV-12-7748.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, James R. Hanneman, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department)

Bruce Jones, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent guardian ad litem)

William M. Ward, Hennepin County Chief Public Defender, Paul J. Maravigli, Assistant Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant mother)

Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.

WORKE, Judge.

Appellant K.R. challenges the district court's decision terminating her parental rights to H.K., arguing that the evidence does not support the district court's termination decision. We affirm.


Appellant K.R. is the mother of H.K., born November 29, 2011. In February 2012, K.R.'s sister reported to respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department (the agency) that K.R. sent a series of text messages threatening to put H.K. in the trash or to abandon him. K.R.'s sister reported other concerns about K.R.'s mental health. The agency took no action until a Clark County, Nevada social services agency notified the agency in March 2012 that appellant was the subject of child-protection proceedings involving another child. An agency investigator went to appellant's listed residence and had to summon police before appellant would permit the investigator to enter. The apartment had little furniture and was being used as an office. Appellant admitted she had a child but said he was at daycare. The investigator eventually was able to view H.K., who appeared fine.

While conducting its investigation, the agency discovered that appellant had five other children, none of whom were in appellant's care. Appellant had a child, I.T.M., whom she gave up for adoption at birth in 1997. Appellant left her oldest two children, K.U.J., and B.J., at a crisis nursery in Minnesota in 2000, but failed to return to pick them up. As a result, the children were the subject of a child in need of protection or services (CHIPS) proceeding. In 2001 or 2002, appellant voluntarily surrendered custody of these two children to her former domestic partner, J.S., who is not the father of the children. J.S. was awarded permanent custody of the children in 2002.

Appellant had two more children, I.R. and E.R., during her marriage to P.R. In 2005, I.R. was the subject of a CHIPS investigation in Dakota County after appellant threatened to drown her. Appellant was hospitalized for depression after this incident, but refused to get a psychological examination. Dakota County took no further action because P.R. took custody of the children and obtained an order for protection against appellant. Although appellant eventually regained custody of I.R. and E.R., in 2009 she called P.R. to demand that he pick up the children because she could not care for them. During the course of their dissolution, P.R. discovered through genetic testing that he was not the biological father of I.R. P.R. left I.R., who has significant special needs and is autistic, at a shelter in Nevada, disclaiming any further responsibility for I.R. When contacted by the Nevada agency in 2012, appellant said that she could not care for I.R. and the newborn H.K. At that time, appellant had not seen either I.R. or E.R. for two years. The Nevada agency recommended that appellant's parental rights to I.R. be terminated and established a case plan that mirrored the one set forth by the Minnesota agency for H.K.

In March 2012, in the Minnesota CHIPS action, appellant agreed to a voluntary case plan that included supervised visitation, random urinalyses (UAs), a psychological evaluation, a parenting assessment, and an agreement to follow all recommendations made after those evaluations and to cooperate with the social worker and the guardian ad litem (GAL). After the CHIPS adjudication in June 2012, the case plan became court ordered. A termination of parental rights (TPR) petition was filed in August 2012, and a hearing on the petition was held in February 2013.

At the hearing, social worker Mark Costello testified that appellant completed the psychological assessment, psychiatric evaluation, and the parenting assessment, attended supervised visitation regularly, and completed parenting education. Appellant refused to submit UAs for claimed religious reasons but ultimately gave two valid UAs that were negative for drugs and negative for alcohol. Costello dropped the UA requirement after the second valid test.

Although appellant completed the psychological assessment in March 2012, she did not begin recommended therapy until July 2012, and although she finally consented to a psychiatric evaluation, this was not done until August 2012. The psychiatric report stated that no medication was necessary because appellant denied any symptoms of mental illness, but also concluded that appellant downplayed any symptoms, blamed others, and had no insight into the "seriousness of her financial and legal situations." Appellant was diagnosed with a mood disorder, not otherwise specified, and Cluster B personality ...

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