An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA02-1318

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 3 June 2003

IN THE MATTERS OF:
BARBARA LOUISE NORTHINGTON
(DOB: 01/02/1997),                    Burke County
ANGEL ROSE NORTHINGTON,                Nos. 99 J 195, 196
(DOB: 04/03/1999),                        00 J 140
AND BETTY SUE NORTHINGTON,
(DOB: 5/14/2000),                
    Minor Children

    

    Appeal by respondent from order entered 7 December 2001, nunc pro tunc 29 November 2001, by Judge Jonathan L. Jones in Burke County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 26 May 2003.

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

    Elizabeth A. Hansen, for respondent-appellant.


    CALABRIA, Judge.

     Barbara Louise Northington was born on 2 January 1997, Angel Rose Northington was born on 3 April 1999, and Betty Sue Northington was born on 14 May 2000. The respondent, Christy June Robinson, is the children's mother. On 1 August 2000, a petition was filed alleging that the children were neglected in that they did not receive proper care, supervision or discipline. Specifically, the petition alleged that “[o]n 14 July 2000, Angel was found wandering naked in the neighborhood and Barbara was found at another residence approximately 150 yards away having wanderedacross a cow pasture[;] Betty was found lying face down on the floor [of the residence] after an infant swing apparently had turned over on her.” Respondent was found asleep and unaware of her children's whereabouts. The petition further alleged a history of domestic violence between respondent and the children's father. Subsequently, on 1 October 2000, Barbara and Angel were removed from the respondent's custody pursuant to a non-secure custody order.
    On 18 October 2000, pursuant to a hearing on 5 October 2000, the trial court entered an order wherein the children were adjudicated as neglected juveniles. The trial court determined that no reunification efforts should be attempted with their father, but that efforts towards reunification should continue with respondent. The trial court further determined that the Burke County Department of Social Services (“DSS”) should pursue a concurrent plan of adoption.
    On 29 June 2001, a petition to terminate parental rights was filed by DSS alleging that respondent had neglected the children and citing the 5 October 2000 adjudication of neglect. On 29 November 2001, a hearing was held on the petition to terminate respondent's parental rights. The trial court incorporated into its findings of fact the psychological evaluation performed by Barry E. Rand (“Dr. Rand”) on 19 January 2001. Dr. Rand concluded that respondent's:
        dramatic, angry and violent personality style increased the likelihood of continued conflict in her home, which was compounded by her lack of functional coping skills to deal withinterpersonal conflict; that her low intelligence combined with her volatile and inconsistent personal style contributed to her poor parenting; that she failed to see any of the negative effects of her behavior and instead blamed the Department and [the children's father]; that therapeutic measures could be helpful, including dialectical behavior therapy, but her anger, suspiciousness of authority figures, and her general defensiveness suggested a guarded prognosis for change, which, if it did occur, would be slow and gradual; that [respondent] was not able to relate any coherent thoughts about her children's day-to-day needs; that a substance abuse specific evaluation was recommended; and that all current indications suggested that she would follow past neglectful patterns.

(emphasis added). The trial court further found that respondent never attended the Women at Risk program, to which she had been referred, and she never had a domestic violence specific assessment or counseling. The court accordingly found that respondent had not corrected those problems which led to the adjudication of neglect and there was substantial likelihood that neglect would be repeated if the children were returned to her. The court held the best interests of the children were served by terminating respondent's parental rights, and so ordered. Respondent appeals.
    Respondent argues there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding of fact and conclusions of law. Respondent asserts that she accomplished the goals assigned to her in the case plans that she signed, having obtained employment and housing, and completing a psychological evaluation. Respondent contends that while DSS testified as to the existence of other case plans, there was no evidence that she was aware of them. Respondent argues that there was no evidence that she was required to obtain domestic violence and substance abuse counseling. Respondent further complains that the trial court failed to find facts, instead reciting allegations, and thus the findings are not based on competent evidence in the record and were insufficient to support the conclusions of law.
    After careful review of the record, briefs and contentions of the parties, we affirm. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111 sets out the statutory grounds for terminating parental rights. A finding of any one of the separately enumerated grounds is sufficient to support a termination. In re Taylor, 97 N.C. App. 57, 64, 387 S.E.2d 230, 233-34 (1990). “[T]he party petitioning for the termination must show by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that grounds authorizing the termination of parental rights exist.” In re Young, 346 N.C. 244, 247, 485 S.E.2d 612, 614 (1997).
    In the case sub judice, the trial court concluded that the children were neglected and that there was a likelihood that the neglect would be repeated were the children returned to respondent. In making its findings and conclusions, the trial court adopted and relied upon Dr. Rand's psychological evaluation of the respondent. It was Dr. Rand's opinion that “Ms. Northington's dramatic, angry and volatile personality style increases the likelihood of continued conflict in her home” and “past neglectful patterns [would continue] if [the children] were returned to her custody[.]” (R.p. 46). Furthermore, the trial court noted that respondent failed to seek substance abuse evaluation or domestic violencecounseling. Despite respondent's contentions that she never received a case plan informing her of the requirement to seek domestic violence counseling, evidence in the record supported the trial court's findings. Shirley Dale, a foster care worker with DSS, testified that she instructed respondent to attend domestic violence counseling and referred her to the Women at Risk program, but that respondent did not attend. Casey Buett, a DSS social worker, testified that respondent was given both the case plans and the court reports which indicated what steps she needed to take to have the children returned to her, but she never attended domestic violence counseling. Thus, we conclude that there was clear, cogent and convincing evidence to support the trial court's findings and conclusions.
    Respondent additionally argues that the trial court erred by taking judicial notice of prior adjudications of neglect involving the children's siblings, Jennifer June and William Elijah Northington, that were not the subject of the present petition. Although the trial court may have considered these prior adjudications, there is no finding or conclusion in the record to suggest the court relied on these prior adjudications in making its determination. Even assuming arguendo that the trial court had relied on the prior adjudications, we conclude it was not error for the court to do so. The court must consider all evidence of neglect and the probability that it will reoccur. A prior adjudication of neglect would be relevant to the probability of repetition of neglect, because it would be evidence of a pattern ofconduct. Cf. In re Castillo, 73 N.C. App. 539, 327 S.E.2d 38 (1985) (prior adjudication of neglect involving same child); see also In re Ballard, 311 N.C. 708, 319 S.E.2d 227 (1984). Accordingly, this assignment of error is overruled.
    Once the trial court has found that grounds exist to terminate parental rights, “the court shall issue an order terminating the parental rights of such parent with respect to the juvenile unless the court shall further determine that the best interests of the juvenile require that the parental rights of the parent not be terminated.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1110(a) (2001). The trial court's decision to terminate parental rights at the disposition stage is discretionary. See In re Montgomery, 311 N.C. 101, 110, 316 S.E.2d 246, 252 (1984). Here, the trial court noted that the children had all been placed in the same prospective adoptive home and were “doing well.” Thus, based on the history of neglect, the probability that it would repeat, and the children's placement in a prospective adoptive home, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination was in the children's best interests. Accordingly, the order terminating respondent's parental rights is affirmed.
    Affirmed.
    Judges MARTIN and McCULLOUGH concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***