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In the Matter of the Termination of Parental Rights To: Arc and Rmr v. the State of Wyoming

August 22, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS TO: ARC AND RMR, MINOR CHILDREN, TMC, APPELLANT (RESPONDENT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES, APPELLEE (PETITIONER).



Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable Scott W. Skavdahl, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kite, Chief Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of typographical or other formal errors so correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] TMC (Mother) appeals from the district court's order terminating her parental rights to ARC and RMR. She claims the State of Wyoming, Department of Family Services (DFS) failed to present clear and convincing evidence that it made reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the family, the children's health and safety would be seriously jeopardized by returning the children to her, or that she was unfit to have care and custody of the children.

[¶2] We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶3] Mother presents the following issues on appeal:

1. Whether [DFS] proved, by clear and convincing evidence that [Mother] was an unfit parent?

2. Whether [DFS] proved, by clear and convincing evidence that [it] made reasonable efforts [to] rehabilitate the family as required by W.S. § 14-2-309(a)(iii)?

3. Whether [DFS] proved, by clear and convincing evidence that the children's health and safety would be seriously jeopardized if they returned to [Mother]?

DFS's statement of the issues on appeal is similar.

FACTS

[¶4] Mother has two children, ARC and RMR. In March 2008, she and the children were living with JKR, who is the father of RMR, in his home in Mills, Wyoming. JKR's daughter from another relationship, TRR, was also living in the home. At that time, ARC was not quite three years old, RMR was thirteen months old, and TRR was five years old.

[¶5] Mills police officers attempted to serve a warrant on a person they thought lived in a trailer house located on the same property as JKR's house. When no one answered at the trailer, they went to JKR's house to inquire about the trailer's occupants. TRR answered the door and indicated to the officers that she and ARC were home alone. Concerned about the children being left unsupervised, the officers called DFS, which sent an investigator to the residence.

[¶6] The officers and DFS investigator entered the residence and immediately observed illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia in the living room where the children had been watching television. The officers went through the rest of the house to see if there were other children. They found JKR asleep in the back bedroom. He was taken into custody and the house was searched for further evidence of drugs. Law enforcement found more drugs, drug paraphernalia, a large amount of cash, and a stolen firearm.

[¶7] While the officers were at the house, Mother arrived with RMR. DFS took all three children into protective custody and placed them in foster care. The parents were alleged to have neglected the children by exposing them to illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. The neglect allegations were substantiated by DFS, and the parents eventually stipulated to an adjudication that they had neglected the children.

[ΒΆ8] DFS and Mother agreed to a family service plan, dated May 29, 2008, and amended on June 23, 2008, which stated the permanency goal as family reunification and required her to submit to urinary analyses (UA) six times per week; complete a substance abuse assessment and comply with its recommendations; establish safe and stable housing suitable for the children; find and maintain legal employment; attend parenting classes ...


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