This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).








In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of:  R. W., Parent



Filed April 3, 2007


Toussaint, Chief Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 27-JV-05-8924



Leonardo Castro, 4th District Public Defender, Peter W. Gorman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2700 (for appellant R. W.)


Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, 525 Portland Avenue, Suite 1210, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department)


Leonardo Castro, 4th District Public Defender, David T. Connor, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2700 (for respondent R. H.)


Howard S. Kleyman, 2400 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (for guardian ad litem)



            Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Ross, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

Appellant R.W. challenges the district court’s termination of her parental rights.  Because the district court’s findings are supported by substantial evidence and are not clearly erroneous, we affirm.


Appellant is the mother of twins, a boy and a girl, born prematurely in April 2004.  They remained in the hospital for about three months and were then released to the care of appellant and their father, respondent R.H.  Both twins were developmentally delayed, and the boy has significant medical problems. 

After the twins had been with appellant for about ten months, the boy was hospitalized and diagnosed with failure to thrive.  The twins were placed in foster care and a CHIPS petition was filed on them.  Appellant was given first a voluntary case plan, then a court-ordered case plan when the twins were declared CHIPS in October 2005. 

Respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department acquired legal custody of both twins and filed a petition to terminate their parents’ parental rights.  Following trial, the district court terminated the parental rights of appellant but not of R.H., and appellant challenges the termination.  This court is limited to determining whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence and address the statutory criteria or whether they are clearly erroneous.  In re Welfare of Child of W.L.P., 678 N.W.2d 703, 709 (Minn. App. 2004). 

A district court may terminate a parent’s right to a child if it finds

that the parent has substantially, continuously, or repeatedly refused or neglected to comply with the duties imposed upon that parent by the parent and child relationship, including but not limited to providing the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, and other care and control necessary for the child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development, if the parent is physically and financially able, and either reasonable efforts by the social services agency have failed to correct the conditions that formed the basis of the petition or reasonable efforts would be futile and therefore unreasonable.


Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(2) (2006).  The district court concluded that appellant’s parental rights should be terminated under this statute.

This conclusion is based in part on findings supported by appellant’s trial testimony.  She testified that she had stopped complying with her case plan about six weeks before trial: she had stopped seeing her social worker; she had not seen the therapist appointed for her; she had stopped meeting with her in-home parenting consultant; she had missed her appointment with a psychiatrist and had not obtained the medication prescribed for her; she continued using marijuana and had stopped taking urinalysis tests; and she had stopped visitation because she found it depressing that the twins had bonded to their foster mother. Appellant also testified that she knew her case plan included maintaining regular contact with her social worker; having a parenting assessment and a psychological evaluation and following through with the recommendations; having in-home parenting training; demonstrating that she was not using alcohol or drugs through urinalysis tests, and attending supervised visitation with the twins. The district court’s finding that appellant “admitted that she failed to work on her case plan and failed to visit with her children for several weeks. . . [and] abandoned the case plan altogether” is supported by substantial evidence from appellant’s own testimony.

Appellant argues that the district court should have considered the fact that she cared for the children for ten months in 2004-2005.  But evidence in termination proceedings “must relate to conditions that exist at the time of termination.” In re Welfare of P.R.L., 622 N.W.2d 538, 543 (Minn. 2001).  Evidence that appellant had cared for the children for ten months in 2004-2005 did not relate to the conditions existing at the time of trial in March-May 2006, when appellant testified that she had stopped visiting them and had abandoned her case plan six weeks earlier. 

Appellant also argues that she needs more time to comply with her case plan, but the district court had to consider the conditions that did exist at the time of trial, when appellant had abandoned the case plan, not conditions that might exist at some indeterminate future time, when appellant might comply with the case plan.  See id. Moreover, the trial occurred when the twins, then about two years old, had already been in foster care for 13 months, or half their lives. The legislature has expressed its concern that permanency is an immediate, not a long-term, goal for children under eight. See, e.g., Minn. Stat. § 260C.201, subd. 11a(a) (2006) (for children under eight years of age, permanency hearing is to be held after six months in foster care). Giving appellant more time to comply would run counter to this legislative concern.

The district court’s findings are supported by substantial evidence and are not clearly erroneous.