may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of: A.M.C.
Filed April 20, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. J1-98-51792
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Donna Wolfson, Assistant County Attorney, Juvenile Protection Section, 2000 Government Ctr., Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent Hennepin County)
William McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Renee Bergeron, Assistant Public Defender, 317 2nd Ave. S., Ste. 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-0809 (for appellant mother)
Professors Jean Gerval & Carl Warren, University of Minnesota Law School, 229 S. 19th Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55454 (for respondent guardian ad litem)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Short, Judge.
This appeal is from a final order terminating appellant Diann Lynn Chartrand's parental rights to her daughter, A.M.C., born August 25, 1990. Because we conclude that the district court properly decided that appellant had abandoned A.M.C., we affirm.
The termination of a parent's relationship with a child is a "grave matter," one over which an appellate court will "exercise `great caution, * * * finding such action proper only when the evidence clearly mandates such a result in accordance with the statutory grounds.'" In re Welfare of A.D., 535 N.W.2d 643, 647 (Minn. 1995) (quoting In re Welfare of Kidd, 261 N.W.2d 833, 835 (Minn. 1978)). On review, an appellate court must consider
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 S.Z., 547 N.W.2d 886, 893 (Minn. 1996) (quoting In re Welfare of M.D.O., 462 N.W.2d 370, 375 (Minn. 1990)). The statutory bases applied by the district court in termination proceedings must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. Minn. Stat. § 260.241, subd. 1 (1998); Minn. R. Juv. P. 59.01.
The record establishes that appellant had no visitation with A.M.C. from June 28, 1997 to March 30, 1998. On three instances during this period, appellant had telephone contact with A.M.C., but in each instance the primary purpose of the call was for a reason other than to contact A.M.C. These facts support a finding of presumed abandonment under Minn. Stat. § 260.221, subd. 1a(a)(1) (1998).
Appellant argues that she had no intent to abandon A.M.C. and has recently increased and improved her contacts with A.M.C. See id. (abandonment presumption inapplicable if parent establishes "good cause" or "extreme hardship" preventing contact); see also In re Welfare of L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d 393, 398 (Minn. 1996) (defining abandonment as "intention to forsake the duties of parenthood"). From the time of A.M.C.'s birth, however, appellant has followed a pattern of leaving A.M.C. with others for extended periods of time. Additionally, appellant's mother testified to numerous instances of appellant's failure to provide basic care for her daughter. Once the county initiated CHIPS proceedings and established a case plan, appellant made only minimal attempts to follow the plan or to inform the county of her whereabouts until just before the termination hearing in July 1998. These actions evidence appellant's intent to abandon A.M.C. See L.A.F. 554 N.W.2d at 399 (intent to abandon may be inferred from parent's actions). The evidence clearly and convincingly supports the trial court's finding of abandonment. See In re Welfare of A.Y.-J, 558 N.W.2d 757, 761 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. Apr. 15, 1997); In re Welfare of W.R., 379 N.W.2d 544, 546 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 1986).
Contrary to appellant's claim, the record also establishes that the county made reasonable efforts to facilitate contact between appellant and A.M.C. Appellant's whereabouts were unknown during the first three months after she abandoned A.M.C. Appellant then ignored her case plan, apparently until after the county initiated termination proceedings. The county was unable to contact appellant because she moved often or was otherwise unreachable and appellant failed to attend some court proceedings involving A.M.C. See A.Y.-J., 558 N.W.2d at 761 (county efforts to facilitate contact were reasonable where appellant failed to maintain contact with social worker or advise county of change of address). Thus, appellant has not established that the county failed to make reasonable efforts to facilitate contact between appellant and A.M.C.
Because we affirm on the basis of abandonment, we decline to address the four other statutory grounds for termination found by the district court. See Minn. Stat. § 260.241, subd. 1 (only one statutory basis for termination necessary to support district court's termination decision).