This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In the Matter of the Welfare of: C. Y., Child.

Filed January 6, 1998


Huspeni, Judge

Freeborn County District Court

File No. J99650486

Lee Bjorndahl, Baudler, Baudler, Maus & Blahnik, 108 North Main Street, Austin, MN 55912 (for appellant father)

Craig S. Nelson, Freeborn County Attorney, 411 South Broadway, P. O. Box 1147, Albert Lea, MN 56007 (for respondent county)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Willis, Judge.



Appellant father challenges the district court's order terminating his parental rights under Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1(b)(4) (1996). Because we conclude that substantial evidence supports the district court's termination decision, we affirm.


We review an order terminating parental rights to determine whether the district court's findings address the statutory criteria, whether those findings are supported by substantial evidence, and whether those findings are clearly erroneous. In re Welfare of M.D.O., 462 N.W.2d 370, 375 (Minn. 1990). Appellate courts exercise "great caution in [parental] termination proceedings, finding such action proper only when the evidence clearly mandates such a result." In re Welfare of A.D., 535 N.W.2d 643, 647 (Minn. 1995) (citations omitted).

Here the district court, in determining that appellant was palpably unfit to be a party to the parent-child relationship, relied on the following:

Appellant's fifth-degree assault on C.Y.'s two-year-old half-sister;

Appellant's violation of the order for protection prohibiting him from contact with C.Y.'s half-sister and unsupervised contact with C.Y.;

Appellant's criminal conviction and incarceration for child endangerment;

Appellant's inappropriate behavior during supervised visitations with C.Y. and the presence of pornographic materials in C.Y.'s bassinet;

The sex offender evaluation that concluded unsupervised contact by appellant with C.Y. would not be in her best interest;

Appellant's unwillingness to participate in a sex offender relapse program recommended by the assessment; and that

Appellant poses a serious threat to the physical and sexual safety of C.Y. and will continue to pose such a threat into the undetermined future.

These findings are based on substantial evidence in the record and support termination under Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1(b)(4) (1996).

Appellant argues that because he was never allowed to reside with the child, there is no evidence to support the conclusion that he is an unfit parent. He cites M.D.O. in arguing that his repeated sexual and physical abuse of young children cannot support termination because he has not sexually or physically abused C.Y. There is no merit in appellant's position.

Nothing in M.D.O. requires a parent to physically or sexually abuse the child who is the subject of a termination proceeding before terminating that parent's rights based on a pattern of abusive conduct. Cf. id. at 379 (affirming district court's order denying termination petition and reversing court of appeals because it exceeded standard of review and failed to defer to district court's factual findings); In re Welfare of H.M.P.W., 281 N.W.2d 188, 191 (Minn. 1979) (parent's criminal sexual behavior need not have directly affected his children to support a finding that parent is unfit). A parent may be unfit not only because of a "consistent pattern of specific conduct before the child," but also because of "specific conditions directly relating to the parent and child relationship." Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1(b)(4). Here, substantial evidence supports the district court's termination decision. Cf. In re Welfare of J.D.L., 522 N.W.2d 364, 368 (Minn. App. 1994) (affirming trial court that found parent palpably unfit based on visitation notes that indicated a specific pattern of inadequate parenting skills); In re Welfare of R.T.B., 492 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. App. 1992) (affirming trial court that found parent palpably unfit due to his alcohol and drug use, incarceration, and failure to maintain any relationship with the child).

Appellant also argues that the county's reunification efforts focused on C.Y.'s mother and therefore the district court erred in finding that the county made reasonable efforts to unite him with C.Y. We disagree. When determining whether reasonable efforts have been made, courts must consider whether services were:

(1) relevant to the safety and protection of the child;

(2) adequate to meet the needs of the child and family;

(3) culturally appropriate;

(4) available and accessible;

(5) consistent and timely; and

(6) realistic under the circumstances.

Minn. Stat. § 260.012, subd. c (1996). "In some cases, any provision of services or further provision of services would be futile, and therefore unreasonable." In re Welfare of S.Z., 547 N.W.2d 886, 892 (Minn. 1996). Whether services offered constitute reasonable efforts depends on the problems presented. Id.

Here the district court found that appellant posed a serious risk to the physical and sexual safety of C.Y. and that this threat would continue for the foreseeable future. The county recommended sexual offender relapse treatment that appellant did not complete. Even though appellant argues that he tried to enroll in a program, he also testified that he did not think he needed the treatment. Appellant's most recent act of child endangerment and his present incarceration have also prevented him from obtaining recommended treatment.

The county acted reasonably in recommending relapse treatment in light of the assessment that appellant posed a danger to C.Y. and was likely to reoffend. Cf. id. (in light of parent's continuing mental illness and county's efforts to provide services tailored to the problem, court could find reasonable efforts). Appellant's failure to complete recommended treatment cannot be blamed on the county. Cf. id. at 889-92 (county's efforts to provide mental health services and reunite family were reasonable efforts and for county to attempt further services in light of parent's continued mental illness, refusal to take medication, and failure to meet with psychiatrist would be futile).

In a proceeding to terminate parental rights, "the best interest of the child must be paramount." Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 4 (1996). "[T]he best interests of a child are not served by delay that precludes the establishment of parental bonds with the child by either the natural parent or adoptive parents within the foreseeable future." S.Z., 547 N.W.2d at 893. Here the district court found that C.Y. was a special needs child with global developmental delays. The court found that C.Y. was doing well in foster care and receiving appropriate parenting for her delays. The court also found that C.Y. was adoptable and needed a stable, nurturing family to focus on her special needs. The record supports the district court's finding that terminating appellant's parental rights was in the child's best interests.

The district court's decision to terminate appellant's parental rights was in C.Y.'s best interests and met the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1(b)(4). Therefore, we need not address appellant's additional argument that the court's failure to conclude that appellant's parental rights should also be terminated under Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1(8) (that the child is neglected and in foster care) presented a legal inconsistency. See Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1(b) (1996) (court may terminate parental rights based on any one of the statutory grounds).