An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA03-731


Filed: 18 November 2003

IN THE MATTER OF:            
CARTER, a minor child                Wayne County
                                No. 2 J 142


    Appeal by respondent mother from order filed 6 March 2003 by Judge R. Les Turner in Wayne County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 29 October 2003.

    E.B. Borden Parker for petitioner-appellee Wayne County Department of Social Services.

    Rebekah W. Davis for respondent-appellant.

    BRYANT, Judge.

    Pamela D. Hand (respondent) appeals an order entered 6 March 2003 terminating her parental rights over her son Khalil Jaquan Carter (Khalil).
    The history of this case is as follows: Khalil was born on 14 October 1999. In November 1999, Khalil was admitted to Pitt Memorial Hospital with brain hemorrhaging, several fractures, and seizures. It was determined that the injuries were not accidental and that Khalil was a victim of child abuse. As a result of the abuse, Khalil now has Reflux Cerebral Palsy and seizures, is severely mentally retarded, has fluid on the brain, cannot swallow, and therefore, requires a feeding tube. Khalil's father was subsequently convicted of felony child abuse, and his parentalrights were terminated. The Wayne County Department of Social Services (DSS) took custody of Khalil in December 1999 and placed him in foster care. On 14 June 2000, nunc pro tunc 9 May 2000, Khalil was adjudicated an abused and neglected juvenile and custody was continued with DSS. By order dated 28 November 2000, Khalil was returned to respondent's custody.
    Sometime after custody of Khalil was returned to respondent, she ceased cooperating with DSS. Even though respondent had been ordered not to allow Khalil's father to have any contact with the child, she refused to allow DSS into her home when the father's presence was suspected. Khalil started losing weight, and respondent did not want him to have medical procedures that were recommended by the child's physicians. Accordingly, custody of Khalil was returned to DSS, and within time, efforts to reunify respondent and Khalil ceased. On 18 July 2002, DSS filed a petition to terminate respondent's parental rights alleging respondent had neglected Khalil and had failed to pay any support for him while in DSS care.
    Following a hearing on 13 and 27 February 2003, the trial court entered an order on 6 March 2003 concluding that grounds existed to terminate respondent's parental rights. The trial court found that: (1) respondent did not properly care for Khalil and (2) her failure to do so constituted neglect. The trial court further found that while it was “not convinced” that Khalil was adoptable, it was still in the child's best interests that respondent's parental rights be terminated because respondent had “demonstratedthat she will not provide the degree of care which promotes the healthy and orderly physical and emotional well[-]being of the juvenile.”


    The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that termination of parental rights would be in the child's best interests. Specifically, respondent contends the trial court's decision amounted to an abuse of discretion because, after recognizing that Khalil's severe handicaps made him an unlikely candidate for adoption, the trial court did not evaluate the positive effect respondent had on her son. We disagree.
    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.G.S. § 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). “A ruling based on a trial court's discretion will [therefore] not be reversed without a showing of manifest abuse of that discretion.” In re Black, 76 N.C. App. 106, 110, 332 S.E.2d 85, 87 (1985).
    In this case, the trial court concluded that it was in the best interests of the child that respondent's parental rights beterminated. The trial court based its conclusion on respondent's failure to properly care for Khalil when he was first returned to her care. Josie Allen, a DSS social worker, testified that before Khalil was returned to respondent's custody, he was able to take a bottle, had gained weight, was growing, and was making progress; however, while in respondent's care, Khalil lost weight. After Khalil was returned to foster care, he again gained weight. Additionally, respondent objected to Khalil having medical procedures that were recommended by his physicians and was uncooperative with DSS. Based on respondent's failure to properly care for Khalil while he was in her custody, we hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining termination of parental rights to be in the child's best interests.
    Chief Judge EAGLES and Judge LEVINSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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