An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-482

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 6 May 2003

IN THE MATTER OF:                            Burke County
                                        No. 98-J-51
DONALD MILTON HOPKINS, JR.

    Appeal by respondent father from an order entered 7 December 2001 by Judge Jonathan L. Jones in Burke County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 11 February 2003.

    Stephen M. Schoeberle for petitioner-appellee Burke County Department of Social Services; Mary R. McKay, Guardian Ad Litem.

    Susan J. Hall for respondent-appellant.

    HUNTER, Judge.

    Donald Milton Hopkins, Sr. (“respondent”) appeals from a permanency planning review order in which the trial court concluded that the permanent plan for respondent's son, Donald Milton Hopkins, Jr. (“D.J.”), should be adoption. The court ordered the Department of Social Services (“DSS”) to take all steps necessary to achieve the plan, including filing a petition to terminate parental rights. Respondent contends the trial court failed to make the necessary findings of fact required by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907 (2001) and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-507 (2001). Respondent further argues the trial court erred in ordering that adoption be the permanent plan for D.J. We vacate the permanency planningreview order and remand this case for the trial court to make additional findings of fact.
    D.J. was initially placed in the non-secure custody of DSS in March 1995 after an incident of domestic violence. He remained in DSS' custody until 1 May 1997, when custody was given to his paternal aunt, Michelle Hopkins (“Ms. Hopkins”). D.J. was placed with Ms. Hopkins since his mother was unstable and unable to provide consistent care for him and respondent had recently been released from prison and had consented to D.J. being placed in Ms. Hopkins' custody. The trial court reviewed the case on 30 April 1998 and ordered that D.J. remain with Ms. Hopkins. During the 1998-1999 school year, Ms. Hopkins gave physical custody of D.J. to respondent without prior court approval. While living with respondent, D.J. was sexually abused by respondent's step-brother, Boyd Lane (“Mr. Lane”) who lived with respondent. Mr. Lane was charged for sexually abusing D.J. and pleaded guilty to indecent liberties with a child. Years prior, while respondent and Mr. Lane were growing up, Mr. Lane had sexually abused respondent.
    Upon investigation of the sexual molestation, DSS requested that D.J. be placed in therapy. Initially, respondent resisted treatment but D.J. was placed in therapy at Foothills in Marion, North Carolina, from 18 April 2000 until 18 June 2000. Respondent stopped taking D.J. to therapy sessions because he reported to the therapist that he was moving to Morganton, North Carolina, and would contact Foothills there. However, there is no record that this ever occurred. D.J. returned to Foothills in Marion forcounseling from 8 November 2000 until 29 November 2000. D.J. resumed treatment on 13 September 2001.
    On 22 August 2001, DSS filed a motion for review requesting the court to conduct a review hearing due to changed circumstances since the entry of the last order. DSS alleged the following: (1) respondent had obtained physical custody of D.J. from Ms. Hopkins without prior court approval; (2) D.J. was sexually abused by an adult male who respondent allowed to reside in the home and to sleep in the same bed as D.J.; and (3) respondent had failed to arrange for D.J. to get counseling. A hearing was held pursuant to the motion for review on 1 November 2001. Thereafter, the trial court entered an order granting legal and physical custody of D.J. to DSS, terminating reunification efforts with respondent, D.J.'s mother (Michelle Riddle), and D.J.'s paternal aunt (Ms. Hopkins), and ordering a permanency planning review of available options. On 29 November 2001, a permanency planning review was held. The trial court granted continued custody of D.J. to DSS, terminated reunification efforts with respondent, D.J.'s mother, and D.J.'s paternal aunt, and ordered that adoption be the permanent plan for D.J. The court additionally ordered the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights within sixty days. Respondent appeals.
    Respondent contends the trial court failed to comply with the statutory requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907 and N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-507 by making insufficient findings of fact. We agree.
    Pursuant to Section 7B-907(a), “[a] trial court is required to conduct a permanency planning hearing in every case where custodyof a child has been removed from a parent.” In re Eckard, 148 N.C. App. 541, 543, 559 S.E.2d 233, 234, disc. review denied, 356 N.C. 163, 568 S.E.2d 192 (2002). At the hearing “the court shall consider information from the parent, the juvenile, the guardian, any foster parent, relative or preadoptive parent providing care for the child, the custodian or agency with custody, the guardian ad litem, and any other person or agency which will aid it in the court's review.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b). If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the court decides the child is not to return home, the trial court must consider specific criteria and make written findings of fact concerning those criteria that are relevant. Id. The criteria to be considered are listed as follows:
        (1)    Whether it is possible for the juvenile to be returned home immediately or within the next six months, and if not, why it is not in the juvenile's best interests to return home;

        (2)    Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether legal guardianship or custody with a relative or some other suitable person should be established, and if so, the rights and responsibilities which should remain with the parents;

        (3)    Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether adoption should be pursued and if so, any barriers to the juvenile's adoption;

        (4)    Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether the juvenile should remain in the current placement or be placed in another permanent living arrangement and why;
        (5)    Whether the county department of social services has since the initial permanency plan hearing made reasonable efforts to implement the permanent plan for the juvenile;

        (6)    Any other criteria the court deems necessary.

Id. The trial court is also required to make specific findings regarding “the best plan of care to achieve a safe, permanent home for the juvenile within a reasonable period of time.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(c). Moreover, according to Section 7B-907(c), if the juvenile's placement continues with DSS, the order must comply with Section 7B-507 which requires the court, among other things, to make “a finding that the juvenile's continuation in or return to the juvenile's own home would be contrary to the juvenile's best interest[.]” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-507(a)(1).
    In the case sub judice, the trial court made the following two findings of fact in its permanency planning order:
        1.    The Court adopts the statements contained in Ms. Jackson's report, Mr. West's addendum and Ms. Riddle's letter and itinerary as its findings and incorporates those documents herein by reference.

        2.    Ms. Riddle had scheduled a substance abuse assessment and a psychological evaluation. She attends anger management counselling [sic]; and her itinerary takes into account having the juvenile in her care. Mr. Hopkins attends AA and has scheduled anger management counselling [sic].

We conclude that the court did not make the necessary findings required by Section 7B-907 and Section 7B-507. “When a trial court is required to make findings of fact, it must make the findings of fact specially.” In re Harton, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___, 577 S.E.2d334, ___ (2003) (citing In re Anderson, 151 N.C. App. 94, 96, 564 S.E.2d 599, 601 (2002); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 52 (2001)). The trial court's findings must consist of more than a recitation of allegations; the trial court must find ultimate facts necessary to support the conclusions of law through “'processes of logical reasoning from the evidentiary facts.'” Anderson, 151 N.C. App. at 97, 564 S.E.2d at 602 (quoting Appalachian Poster Advertising Co. v. Harrington, 89 N.C. App. 476, 479, 366 S.E.2d 705, 707 (1988)).
    The trial court in this case made no findings of fact regarding the specific criteria provided in Section 7B-907(b). The court also made no findings addressing “the best plan of care to achieve a safe, permanent home for the juvenile within a reasonable period of time” as required in Section 7B-907(c). The court additionally failed to make a finding required by Section 7B- 507(a)(1) “that the juvenile's continuation in or return to the juvenile's own home would be contrary to the juvenile's best interest[.]” The court's findings consisted of one evidentiary finding, the adoption of reports from the guardian ad litem and DSS, and the adoption of Ms. Riddle's letter and daily itinerary for D.J. if D.J. were placed with Ms. Riddle. These findings are not “'specific ultimate facts . . . sufficient for the appellate court to determine that the judgment is adequately supported by competent evidence.'” Anderson, 151 N.C. App. at 97, 564 S.E.2d at 602 (quoting Montgomery v. Montgomery, 32 N.C. App. 154, 156-57, 231 S.E.2d 26, 28 (1977)). Therefore, we vacate the permanency planning review order and remand this case for the trial court tospecially make the required findings of fact under Section 7B- 907(b), Section 7B-907(c), and Section 7B-507(a). Due to our disposition of this case, we do not reach the issue of whether the trial court erred in ordering that adoption be the permanent plan for D.J.
    Vacated and remanded.
    Judges BRYANT and ELMORE concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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