In re Brittany J.

Connecticut Appellate Court

100 Conn.App. 329, 917 A.2d 1024 (April 2007)

 

In this relatively straightforward termination of parental rights appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s findings that the mother had failed to rehabilitate and that termination of parental rights was in the children’s best interests.

The mother, who suffered from bipolar disorder, contended that she had indeed rehabilitated to an extent where she could successfully parent her children. She claimed that she was taking her psychotropic medication and had made significant improvement with therapy. Indeed, the mother’s clinician opined that the mother was “committed to improving her mental health.” However, the appellate court ruled that the court was permitted to give greater weight to the testimony of the court-appointed psychologist who, as late as July, 2005, reported that the mother “utterly refused to comply with her medical regimen.” The trial court was permitted to find that the mother’s recent efforts were “too little, too late.”

The appellate court also upheld the trial court’s finding that termination was in the best interests of the children, who, though bonded with their mother, expressed some desire to continue in their foster homes rather than return home. The trial court concluded that the children’s need for permanency, combined with the mother’s intermittent and inadequate efforts to improve her mental health, militated in favor of terminating parental rights.

This case underscores the need for parents to demonstrate progress with their court-identified parenting issues before too much time passes. Progress that is made after the filing of the TPR petition may not be credited or given much weight by the court.

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