Family Law Keyed to Weisberg
State Ex Rel. Children
Appellant Michelle Brady gave birth to her daughter prematurely. Her daughter suffered from life-threatening medical conditions, and was in the neonatal intensive care unit for the first 15 weeks of her life. The mother was 18 at the time, and was of low average intelligence, exhibiting certain mental and psychological difficulties. She was a homeless high school drop out when she met the child’s father, and their relationship was violate and periodically violent. Despite this, mother visited child at the hospital daily and met with the nursing staff to discuss the child’s special needs. Following an altercation between mother and father, hospital staff became concerned and contacted Children’s Services Division (CSD). A CSD investigator contacted the parents and recommended they attend psychological evaluations and domestic violence groups. CSD did not offer any other assistance or training. A psychological evaluation of the mother revealed that she had sustained subs tantial head injuries during a car accident at 14. She therefore experienced seizures and problems with concentration, memory and vision. Diagnostic tests also revealed that she had low average intelligence and impaired empathy, problem solving, and psychological sensitivity. The psychologist determined that she had organic personality disorder with passive-aggressive features, and concluded that she lacked the skills to care for child on her release from the hospital. CSD therefore petitioned the court to assume jurisdiction. The court did, and placed the child in the care of a foster parent. Mother’s access was limited to two one-hour supervised visits per week, and attended all visitations on time. In October 1993, CSD requested that the parents’ skills and abilities be assessed. The determination was that the parents showed an obvious interest in parenting, but were currently unable to meet the child’s needs. CSD decided to petition for termination of parents’ rights, off ering neither parent any further assistance or support in acquiring skills needed to care for their special needs child. Mother, nonetheless, undertook a variety of self-help efforts to improve her life and capacity as a parent. At the time of the termination hearing, the child was 18 month old and her medical condition had improved. Mother’s parental rights were terminated, and she appealed.
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