Court May Terminate Parental Rights Even Though Adoption Arrangement is not Secured

In the case of In Re Davonta V., 285 Conn. 483 (2007), the Connecticut Supreme Court addressed whether it is ever in  a child’s best interest to terminate parental rights when an adoptive family has not yet been secured.  In that case, the child was the subject of a neglect petition filed by the Department of Children and Families alleging educational neglect, medical neglect and physical neglect.  After the petition was granted, the child was placed under protective supervision.  The mother subsequently moved out of state with the child; however, when she returned approximately a year later, the Department secured an Order of Temporary Custody based on additional reports of neglect.  After the OTC was granted, the child was committed to DCF’s care and placed in a foster home.

The Department of Children and Families subsequently filed a petition for termination of parental rights alleging that the child was being denied proper care and attention, and that the mother failed to rehabilitate herself.  After a trial, the court granted the Department’s petition, concluding that the child’s best interests would be served by severing the relationship with his mother.  The mother appealed on the basis that, among other things, the child’s foster parents had not guaranteed they would adopt him.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court explained that the law does not preclude the termination of a biological parent’s rights simply because adoption of the child by new parents is not imminent. Indeed, “Although subsequent adoption is the preferred outcome for a child whose biological parents have had their parental rights terminated… it is not a necessary prerequisite for the termination of parental rights.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 492.  The Court further explained, “While long-term stability is critical to a child’s future health and development… adoption provides only one option for obtaining such stability.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 492.  According to the Court, the reluctance of the child’s foster parents to proceed with adoption at the time of the termination proceedings was not a sufficient reason to disturb the trial court’s judgment. Id.

Citing various sources, the Court emphasized the importance of permanency, explaining “Children need secure and uninterrupted emotional relationships with the adults who are responsible for their care.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 494-495.  “No child can grow emotionally while in limbo, never really belonging to anyone except on a temporary and ill-defined or partial basis.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 495.

Written by: Michael D. DeMeola

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