This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the
Welfare of: L.M., a/k/a L.M.M.
Filed August 21, 2001
Ramsey County District Court
File No. J000553974
Robert J. Lawton, 1100 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for appellant mother)
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Bennett C. Rosene, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Blvd., Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
Paul Bergstrom, 25 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for guardian ad litem)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant, the mother of three-year-old L.M., challenges the sufficiency of the trial court’s findings terminating her parental rights. She argues that the county “rushed into termination proceedings” and failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite her with her daughter. Because the evidence clearly and convincingly establishes all of the statutory grounds cited by the trial court for termination of appellant’s parental rights, we affirm.
In proceedings to terminate a parent’s rights, “appellate courts are limited to determining whether the findings address the statutory criteria, whether those findings are supported by substantial evidence, and whether they are clearly erroneous.” In re Welfare of D.D.G., 558 N.W.2d 481, 484 (Minn. 1997) (citation omitted). “We study the record carefully to determine whether the evidence is clear and convincing.” In re Welfare of P.R.L., 622 N.W.2d 538, 543 (Minn. 2001) (citation omitted). In all termination cases, our paramount concern is for the child’s best interests. See id.; Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 7 (2000).
A court may terminate a parent’s rights to a child if one or more of the statutory criteria are met. See Minn. Stat. § 260C.301 (2000) (setting out statutory grounds for termination of parental rights); In re Welfare of S.Z., 547 N.W.2d 886, 890 (Minn. 1996). The trial court here terminated appellant’s parental rights under four of the statutory grounds: Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1 (b)(2) (parent refuses and neglects to comply with duties imposed on her); (4) (palpable unfitness to parent); (5) (reasonable efforts by county fail to correct conditions leading to CHIPS adjudication); and (8) (child is neglected and in foster care). We conclude that the evidence amply supports all four grounds for termination.
That evidence shows that appellant has lived a transient lifestyle for most of her adult life, has a lengthy criminal history, and suffers from mental illness, including depression and bipolar disorder. In 1999 in Iowa and in early 2000 in Minnesota, authorities received reports that appellant was giving the child over-the-counter medicine to make her sleep during the day. While appellant and the child were living in Iowa, the child sustained injuries that included two black eyes, a swollen nose, and a cut on her nose. While the two were staying at a shelter in Minnesota, staff overheard appellant threaten the child for resisting the medicine appellant was giving her.
Since February 2000, when the child was placed in foster care, the county has provided appellant with mental health case management, housing and transportation, supervised visitation with the child, foster care, medical assistance for both appellant and the child, chemical dependency assessment, and enrollment in a program called “Genesis II.” Appellant has complied with some aspects of her case plan, including remaining law abiding, maintaining sobriety, complying with DNA testing, obtaining a chemical dependency assessment, keeping monthly appointments with her psychiatrist, maintaining contact with her mental health case manager, submitting to urine tests, and visiting weekly with her child.
The evidence nevertheless shows that appellant’s mental illness remains uncontrolled. She fails to consistently take her medications and was observed yelling, laughing, mumbling, and having conversations with imaginary people during her supervised visits with the child and during trial. During several visits, she was overheard telling the child about her sexual activity with her boyfriend and about how she wanted to kill the child protection worker with a gun. While the child does not appear to be afraid of appellant and appears to ignore appellant’s inappropriate speech and behavior, the child protection worker expressed significant concern over the child’s lack of attachment to appellant.
Appellant’s inappropriate behavior and lack of participation caused her to be suspended from the Genesis II program. She was told that she could return as soon as she obtained a medication evaluation and provided proof that she was taking her prescribed psychiatric medications. While her child protection worker made it very clear to her that completion of the program was the “bedrock expectation” of her case plan, she failed to return to the program. At trial, she denied that the program had helped her and claimed that it was not what she needed.
Appellant now criticizes the county’s efforts and claims that they were insufficient. The child protection worker testified, however, that he could think of no additional services that the county could have provided and that the Genesis II program was “the best program we have.” The program director further testified that they have worked successfully with many clients who suffer from bipolar disorder, but that appellant was reluctant to participate in the program. The guardian ad litem recommended termination of appellant’s parental rights because appellant is unable to take the steps necessary to successfully treat and control her mental illness.
After careful examination of the record, we conclude that appellant’s parental rights were properly terminated under any of the statutory grounds cited by the trial court and that the child’s best interests are served by termination. The evidence shows clearly and convincingly that despite the county’s reasonable efforts, appellant has either refused to cooperate or only partially complied with her case plan. The evidence further shows that appellant either refuses or neglects to comply with her parental duties and is palpably unfit, because her mental illness remains uncontrolled and she is incapable of providing the child with a safe, stable home. The trial court’s decision terminating appellant’s parental rights is therefore affirmed.