IN THE MATTERS OF:
E.L.W. and S.B.W. Nos. 03 J 55 and 03 J 56
Hockaday & Hockaday, P.A., by Daniel M. Hockaday, for
petitioner-appellee Yancey County Department of Social
Don Willey for respondent-appellant-mother.
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, by Sarah L. Buthe, for the Guardian ad Litem-appellee.
MARITN, Chief Judge.
Rachel W. (respondent) appeals from two orders which
terminated her parental rights as to her minor children E.L.W. and
S.B.W. For the reasons stated below, we affirm .
On 8 October 2003, the Yancey County Department of Social Services (DSS) filed juvenile petitions alleging that E.L.W. was an abused and neglected juvenile and that S.B.W. was a neglected juvenile. The trial court entered nonsecure custody orders on 8 October 2003 and placed the children in the custody of DSS. In an order entered 2 December 2003, the trial court adjudicated both children to be neglected and ordered that their legal custody remain with DSS. Reunification with respondent remained the permanent plan for the children until 2 August 2005, at which time the trial court changed the permanent plan to adoption with a concurrent plan for guardianship with a nonrelative. On 19 October 2005, DSS filed motions to terminate the parental rights of respondent and the children's father. The trial court terminated the father's parental rights by orders entered on 10 January 2006. The hearing to terminate respondent's parental rights was continued, and the matter was ultimately heard on 14 February and 8 March 2006.
At the close of the evidence at the termination hearing, DSS requested that its motion to terminate parental rights be amended to include failure to make reasonable progress as a second ground for termination in order to conform to the evidence presented. The Guardian ad Litem joined in the motion, and the trial court allowed the motion without objection from respondent. After finding that both children were neglected, the trial court made the following finding of fact in its two termination orders entered on 20 April 2006:
15. That the Court further finds by clear, cogent and convincing evidence that the respondent mother willfully left the juvenile in foster care or placement outside her home for a period of more than 12 months without showing to the satisfaction of the Court that reasonable progress has been made to correct those conditions which led to the removal of the juveniles; to wit: Ms. W was ordered to complete substance abuse treatment; individual counseling; participate in therapy with the children; maintain employment; maintain a stable home; comply with the recommendations of her psychological evaluation; and attend team meetings. Although Ms. W has made some progress in a few of these requirements, shehas not completed all the requirements and therefore cannot insure the children would not be neglected if returned to her home. Her substance abuse treatment should have taken 10 weeks to complete (initial 20 hours of out- patient recommended). Because Ms. W did not comply timely and began using drugs, had positive drug screens, and became dependent on prescription drugs, it took her 10 months to complete this treatment and Ms. W in fact had to be admitted for inpatient treatment because her drug problem became so severe. Ms. W still has not completed her individual counseling. By the time of this hearing, Ms. W still has not progressed enough in counseling to begin integrating her own therapy with the issues of the girls. Ms. W missed a number of appointments for individual therapy and dropped out of therapy for a substantial period of time in late 2004. Ms. W has not consistently participated in the girls' therapy with Debbie White. Although Ms. W has lived in the same place since 2003 when the children were removed, Ms. W is still struggling to maintain her home financially and has not maintained steady employment as she failed to work at all for a period of one year. Although Ms. W' medical problems began in late 2004, it took her until January, 2006 to get to a doctor to determinate [sic] the nature of her medical condition. Ms. W testified she was dependent on medications for pain which prevented her from making progress in the case but was able to quit these drugs completely in the Fall of 2005. . . . Because Ms. W had not made sufficient progress in completing her court ordered requirements, Petitioner was eventually relieved of providing further reasonable efforts to reunify the juveniles with the mother in July, 2005, some 21 months after the children were removed from the mother's home. Ms. W was given every opportunity to comply with her court ordered requirements but did not do so timely. When Ms. W was told by her daughter E in September, 2004 that [her maternal grandfather] had molested her, the mother's response was to drop out of all treatment, abuse drugs and quit her job. When the Court told Ms. W in May, 2005 that she had one last chance to make progress, she ended up inin-patient treatment and missed more than half of her group and individual therapy appointments once she got out prior to the July, 2005 hearing. The juvenile has now remained in DSS custody for a period of 29 months (well beyond the 12 months required) and Ms. W still is not in a position to provide for the juvenile's care.
After finding that it was in the best interests of the children that respondent's parental rights be terminated, the trial court terminated respondent's parental rights. Respondent then gave notice of appeal from both termination orders.
Respondent contends the trial court improperly and materially relied upon incompetent hearsay statements made by the non- testifying children in determining that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate her parental rights. She argues petitioner introduced no competent, non-hearsay evidence that she ever violated the safety plan established to protect her children. Respondent's argument is not persuasive.
As an initial matter, respondent failed to raise her objection to the introduction of the hearsay evidence at the hearing and must therefore be considered to have waived it. In re Isenhour, 101 N.C. App. 550, 553, 400 S.E.2d 71, 73 (1991). Respondent also has made no effort to rebut the presumption that a trial court disregards any incompetent evidence during a nonjury trial. In re Oghenekevebe, 123 N.C. App. 434, 438, 473 S.E.2d 393, 397 (1996).
Multiple grounds for termination of parental rights are enumerated in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a) (2005), and a finding of any one of those grounds is sufficient to support termination. In re Baker, 158 N.C. App. 491, 493, 581 S.E.2d 144, 146 (2003); seeN.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1110(a) (2005). The trial court here found and concluded that respondent had willfully left the [children] in foster care or placement outside her home for a period of more than twelve months without showing to the satisfaction of the Court that reasonable progress has been made to correct those conditions which led to the removal of the juveniles. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B- 1111(a)(2) (2005). This finding as to each child is supported by competent evidence in the form of testimony by a foster care social worker, a child case manager, two therapists, a psychotherapist, and respondent herself. During the twenty-nine months that the children had been in DSS custody at the time of the hearing, respondent failed to complete any of the six requirements listed by the trial court. While acknowledging that respondent had made some progress in a few of the requirements, the trial court's finding provides numerous examples of her failure to make sufficient progress in completing the court-ordered requirements. Ample evidence in the record supports the trial court's finding that grounds for termination pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(2) existed.
Having determined that grounds for termination exist under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(2) and that this ground is supported by the trial court's findings of fact, this Court need not address whether termination was proper under the remaining subdivision found by the trial court. In re Baker, 158 N.C. App. at 497, 581 S.E.2d at 148; N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1110(a). The trial court's termination orders are affirmed. Affirmed.
Judges CALABRIA and JACKSON concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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