Rebecca’s linked article got me thinking about something I’ve been mulling over for a while. Here is the legalese on what it takes to terminate parental rights in Texas. It seems, from doing my research, that Texas is a pretty tough state with good laws on the books that promote permanency for children in foster care.

 I know the county we were in with Sugar Biscuit’s case was not one to mess around. Parents have a clearly laid out case plan, and a clearly defined amount of time to do services, as well as good access to those services. Well, parents who have committed a felony do suffer from a dearth of opportunities to get housing and employment, but that stands the same across the country, I’d imagine. I remember when we were trying to help SB’s bio mom get him back, trying to find a place where she could live that would accept her criminal history was almost impossible. We were able to find something (however, she chose not to take that opportunity).

The DA terminated parental rights in Sugar Biscuit’s case based on the following grounds:

(D)  knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;

(E)  engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;

(O)  failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child’s removal from the parent under Chapter 262 for the abuse or neglect of the child;

Now, because we are in Texas, SB’s birth mother also falls under this category:

(M)  had his or her parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that the parent’s conduct was in violation of Paragraph (D) or (E) or substantially equivalent provisions of the law of another state;

This means she stands to lose rights to any future children because the state found grounds to terminate her rights to one child. In addition, because of the facts that came to light at trial, CPS says her chances of keeping any future children are very, very slim. 

As an additional aside, during her trial, the judge stopped the proceedings and sent the jury out on three different occasions and asked her to please consider relinquishing her rights so as to protect her ability to parent in the future. This was based on what he knew of the facts in the case, and he stated that he sees parents terminated for much, much less in our state and asked her to consider her future, as he felt her chances of winning in trial were “less than one percent”.

This long, rambling post was basically made because I’m wondering what it’s like in other states with regards to terminating parents. According to state and federal law, if it were followed, parents would have a maximum of 18 months to follow a case plan, and failing to do so, their rights would be terminated and children would hopefully achieve some sort of permanency. I know it doesn’t work that way. It would be wonderful if it did.

Other foster or adoptive parents, how does it work in your state?  What typically happens in these types of cases?