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An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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

NO. COA 06-1142


Filed: 15 May 2007


    D.C.B. and A.N.O.,             Wayne County
    Minor Children.            Nos. 04 J 151-152

    Appeal by respondent mother from permanency planning orders filed 21 April 2006 by Judge Joseph E. Setzer, Jr., in Wayne County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 22 March 2007.
    E.B. Borden Parker for petitioner Wayne County Department of Social Services.

     Annick Lenoir-Peek for respondent mother.

    North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program, by Alexandra S. Gruber for Guardian ad Litem of the minor children.

    BRYANT, Judge.

    Respondent mother (respondent) appeals permanency planning orders filed 21 April 2006 with respect to her minor children, D.C.B. and A.N.O.   (See footnote 1)  Because this appeal is interlocutory, we dismiss this matter.
    D.C.B. and A.N.O. were adjudicated neglected in an order entered 2 September 2004. After initially placing the children with respondent's mother and then placing the children with two different maternal aunts, the trial court granted custody of both children to one of the maternal aunts (S.C.), in an order entered 4 February 2005. After a review hearing in which the trial court noted respondent's failure to make progress toward reunification with her children, the trial court granted permanent guardianship of both children to S.C. at a permanency planning hearing held on 10 August 2005.
    At the August 2005 permanency planning hearing, the trial court noted that, although respondent had completed some of the requirements of her case plan as of the date of hearing, she had waited approximately seven months to begin working on the plan. The trial court found that, despite respondent's completion of some of the plan's requirements, respondent had not obtained employment and had not convinced the trial court she was seeking employment. The trial court also found respondent had failed to obtain stable housing and was “living with her boyfriend out of the goodness of his heart.” The trial court then concluded it was “impossible to return the juvenile[s] to the mother” at that time, and that it was “not likely that the Court can return the juvenile[s] to the mother within the next six months.” The trial court then found it was in the best interest of the children that the permanent plan be guardianship with S.C., and designated S.C. as the “fit and proper” guardian of the children. Following entry of the order granting guardianship with S.C., the children continued to live with S.C. Respondent did not appeal the guardianship order.
    In the 21 April 2006 permanency planning orders, the trial court reaffirmed the permanent plan by ordering that custody and guardianship remain with S.C. Respondent appeals.

    We review petitioners' motions to dismiss and determine whether respondent's appeal is interlocutory. North Carolina General Statutes, Section 7B-1001 (2003)   (See footnote 2)  states that an appeal may be taken from “any final order of the court in a juvenile matter[.]” The statute defines a final order as:
        (1) Any order finding absence of jurisdiction;
        (2) Any order which in effect determines the action and prevents a judgment from which appeal might be taken;
        (3) Any order of disposition after an adjudication that a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent; or
        (4) Any order modifying custodial rights.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1001(1)-(4) (2003). This Court has held that permanency planning orders that do not change the permanent plan are not considered “final” for the purposes of appeal. In re A.R.G., ___ N.C. App. ___, 631 S.E.2d 146 (2006). The 21 April 2006 permanency planning order appealed from did not change the permanent plan for the minor children. Further, the 21 April 2006 order was not a dispositional order following an adjudication, nor did it change the legal custodian of D.C.B. and A.N.O. Therefore, we hold such order is not immediately appealable under N.C.G.S. § 7B-1001.
    Judges STEELMAN and LEVINSON concur.
     Report per Rule 30(e) .

Footnote: 1
    In order to protect the identity of the juveniles, we use initials throughout this opinion.
Footnote: 2
     We note that this statute was amended effective 1 October 2005, however, the amendments merely clarify what constitutes a final order. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1001 (2005).

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