This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of:

P.M.M. and D.H., Parents.


Filed December 13, 2005

Klaphake, Judge


Scott County District Court

File No. 04-08295


Kristine L. Solheid, 7000 Union Hill Boulevard, Belle Plaine, MN  56011 (for appellant mother P.M.M.)


Patrick J. Ciliberto, Scott County Attorney, Todd P. Zettler, Special Assistant County Attorney, Government Center JC340, 200 Fourth Avenue West, Shakopee, MN  55379 (for respondent county)


David B. Boyce, Ramstad, Kennedy & Boyce, 525 First Avenue East, Shakopee, MN  55379 (for respondent father D.H.)


Mary Bettner, P.O. Box 674, Prior Lake, MN  55372 (Guardian ad Litem)


            Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Wright, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            C.M. was born to appellant P.M.M. on April 24, 2002.  The child was removed from appellant’s home on March 21, 2003 after she left the child in the care of a new 14-year-old babysitter for two days while appellant used drugs.  In November 2003, respondent Scott County Department of Social Services initiated these proceedings to terminate appellant’s parental rights, after the child had been in out-of-home placement for almost eight months.  The district court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence to terminate appellant’s parental rights under Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(2), (4), (5), and (8) (2004).  Because reasonable efforts made by the county have failed to correct the conditions leading to the child’s out-of-home placement and because termination is in the child’s best interests, we affirm the district court’s decision to terminate appellant’s parental rights under Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1 (b)(5).


            “Parental rights are terminated only for grave and weighty reasons.”  In re Welfare of M.D.O., 462 N.W.2d 370, 375 (Minn. 1990).  An appellate court reviews a decision terminating parental rights to determine whether the trial court’s findings address the statutory criteria and whether those findings are supported by clear and convincing evidence.  In re Welfare of Children of R.W., 678 N.W.2d 49, 55 (Minn. 2004).  Only one statutory ground must be present for termination if termination is in the child’s best interests.  In re Welfare of L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d 393, 396-97 (Minn. 1996).

            Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(5), provides for termination if “following the child’s placement out of home, reasonable efforts, under the direction of the court, have failed to correct the conditions leading to the child’s placement.”[1] Appellant argues: (1) the county’s efforts to rehabilitate her were not reasonable; (2) she substantially complied with the case plan; and (3) the district court’s findings are inadequate.      

            Appellant claims that the county’s efforts to rehabilitate her were not reasonable because they did not properly address her chemical addiction in a “dual diagnosis” with her mental illness.  She argues that without proper diagnosis and treatment of her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), she was doomed to relapse into drug use.    

            The record shows that the county provided appellant with chemical and mental health assessments soon after the child’s out-of-home placement.  The initial chemical health assessment chronicled appellant’s serious and lengthy history of chemical dependency.  In the next few months, appellant participated in two treatment programs:  one at The Haven, an out-patient facility, and the other at Tapestry, a 60-day in-patient facility.  During the spring and summer of 2003, appellant admittedly relapsed at least twice and repeatedly failed urinalysis tests, tampered with tests, or failed to participate in required tests.  On June 14, 2003, appellant was arrested and charged with driving while impaired.  She was discharged from The Haven in June 2003, after repeatedly using drugs and alcohol.  On September 16, 2003, appellant entered in-patient chemical dependency treatment at Tapestry, but she was discharged after she failed urinalysis tests and it was discovered that she was using a narcotic to treat her mental health issues. 

            Regarding her mental health issues, appellant initially was diagnosed as being bipolar, antisocial, passive-aggressive, dependent, and having self-defeating personality traits.  In November 2003, appellant met with Dr. Todd Crawford, a psychologist who assessed her and concluded that she suffers from ADHD.  Appellant was offered drugs to treat this condition, but she stopped taking them to begin homeopathic treatment.  At the time of trial in November 2004, appellant had been in jail for about four months on a DWI probation violation, which may have stymied her progress in addressing her chemical dependency and mental health issues.  Overall, the district court’s findings reveal that appellant exhibits an unbroken pattern of drug use and unstable living that continued to the time of trial.

            Appellant has not shown that the district court clearly erred in finding the county’s efforts to address her chemical abuse and mental health issues to be reasonable, especially in light of appellant’s reluctance or inability to assist in her rehabilitation.  We reject appellant’s claim that the county was required to offer her a dual diagnosis treatment program to treat her chemical and mental health issues simultaneously.  At the time appellant was being treated for chemical dependency at The Haven, she was treated separately for bipolar disorder.  This treatment was reasonable in light of her diagnosis at the time.  Once appellant pursued independent treatment with Dr. Crawford, the county facilitated that treatment as well.  The chemical dependency counselor at The Haven stated that although the program is primarily designed to address chemical dependency issues, they “work with people with mental health concerns.”  Further, although appellant testified that she had lived in a dual diagnosis facility previously, she admitted that she was not successful in managing her chemical or mental health issues through that program.  As “reasonable efforts” require “due diligence” in finding “appropriate and available services,” we conclude that the county met that standard in this case.[2]  Minn. Stat. § 260.012(b) (2004).

            Appellant also argues that she substantially complied with the case plan.  At the core of appellant’s plan was the requirement that she refrain from using drugs and alcohol.  The district court’s findings show that appellant was unable to do this during the pendency of the child’s out-of-home placement.  As such, appellant did not substantially comply with her case plan.

            Appellant further claims that the district court failed to make proper findings to support the reasonable efforts of the county.  Courts are required to make specific findings on the “nature and extent of efforts made by the social services agency to rehabilitate the parent.”  Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 8 (2004); see also Minn. Stat. § 260.012(c) (2004).  Here, the court’s findings enumerate appellant’s need for chemical dependency and mental health treatment, outline the treatment programs that she was offered for each, and state that she relapsed after each of the programs and failed to comply with other required actions, such as urinalysis testing.  While the findings could be more detailed, they are sufficient to address the statutory criteria and support the district court’s ultimate conclusion regarding termination.[3]

            Finally, in all termination proceedings, the best interests of the child are paramount.  Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 7.

In analyzing the best interests of the child, the court must balance three factors:  (1) the child’s interest in preserving the parent-child relationship; (2) the parent’s interest in preserving the parent-child relationship; and (3) any competing interest of the child.


In re Welfare of Child of W.L.P., 678 N.W.2d 703, 711 (Minn. App. 2004) (quotation omitted).  The district court found that it was in the child’s best interests to terminate appellant’s parental rights, stating that “[p]ermanency is necessary, and in this case termination of parental rights is the only way to achieve it.”  The record and other findings made by the district court support the court’s best interest determination.  The district court found that appellant cannot at this time, or in the foreseeable future, provide a stable home for the child because of her continued drug and alcohol use and unresolved mental health issues.  We find no error in the district court’s determination that termination of appellant’s parental rights is in the child’s best interests.      

            In the event of this court’s affirmance of the termination of her parental rights, appellant asks this court to order a contact agreement or visitation between the child and her half-sibling.  Minn. Stat. § 260C.317, subd. 1(2) (2004) states that upon termination, the biological parent or sibling “may be a party to a communication or contact agreement.”  Such agreements are subject to written approval by adoptive parents, foster parents, or other relevant parties.  Minn. Stat. § 259.58 (2004).  As there is currently no contact agreement in place, it would be premature for this court to order one, or to order visitation between the child and her half-sibling, in light of the child’s uncertain future.  We therefore decline to order a contact agreement or visitation.


[1] Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(5)(2004), also contains several pertinent presumptions.  Although the district court did not specifically determine that the presumptions apply here, the record and the court’s findings also support application of the presumptions in this case.


[2]Appellant also claims that her mental impairment constitutes a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 12132 (2002), and that the county failed to accommodate her disability in its efforts to rehabilitate her.  This issue was not raised to or considered by the district court.  Therefore, we decline to address it.  See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988); In re Welfare of Children of Coats, 633 N.W.2d 505, 512 (Minn. 2001) (applying Thiele to termination of parental rights appeals).

[3]Although the record fully supports the three other statutory bases for termination found by the district court, we decline to address them individually where only one statutory ground need be present for termination.  See L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d at 396-97.