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In re Adoption of A.S.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 6, 2018

In the Matter of the Adoption of A.S. C.N.D., Petitioner
v.
C.M.A.S., Respondent and Appellant and A.S., North Dakota Department of Human Services, Respondents and M.S. and C.S., Interested Parties and Appellees In the Matter of the Adoption of Z.S. C.N.D., Petitioner
v.
C.M.A.S., Respondent and Appellant and Z.S., North Dakota Department of Human Services, Respondents and M.S. and C.S., Interested Parties and Appellees

          Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Richard L. Hagar, Judge.

          Kyle R. Craig, Minot, ND, for respondent and appellant.

          Erica J. Shively, Bismarck, ND, for interested parties and appellees.

          MCEVERS, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] C.S. appeals from a district court's order terminating his parental rights to A.S. and Z.S. C.S. argues the district court erred in finding he abandoned the children and finding the causes of deprivation were likely to continue. We affirm, concluding the district court did not clearly err in finding the causes of deprivation were likely to continue.

         I

         [¶ 2] In August 2017, C.D. petitioned to terminate her and C.S.'s parental rights to A.S. and Z.S., and to place the children in an adoptive home through an identified adoption placement. In her petitions, C.D. alleged it was in the best interests of the children to terminate C.S. and C.D.'s parental rights and that remaining in C.S. or C.D.'s care was contrary to the children's welfare and wellbeing. In March 2018, the district court held a hearing on the matter and heard evidence relating to C.S.'s history of incarceration, living arrangements, abuse of C.D., abandonment of the children, and history of drug use.

         [¶ 3] C.S., the biological father, and C.D., the biological mother, had two children, A.S., born in January 2014, and Z.S., born in August 2015. C.S. and C.D. were never married, but they lived together periodically. C.S. and C.D. began to use drugs in 2012 and continued to use drugs regularly until November 2017, when both claimed they attempted sobriety.

         [¶ 4] C.D. and C.S. got into an altercation and C.S. attempted to "run off" with A.S. At the time of the altercation, C.D. was pregnant with Z.S. As a result of the altercation, a year-long protection order was issued in 2015 in Minnesota, prohibiting C.S. from contacting C.D.

         [¶ 5] C.D. testified C.S. has only seen Z.S. three times since his birth and Z.S. does not know C.S. C.S. admitted that during 2015 and 2016, he was incarcerated for 157 days, including time spent at a rehabilitation center in Jamestown and in the last two years he has been incarcerated for approximately six months. C.S. was on supervised probation, and was participating in the drug court program since November 2017. C.S. admitted to using methamphetamine in February 2018. C.S.'s probation officer testified that the drug court program is, at a minimum, a 12-month program. The probation officer also testified that due to C.S.'s inability to meet the requirements of the drug court program, he was placed in Centre, Inc., a halfway house, to achieve residential stability. C.S. testified he will continue to reside at Centre, Inc., for an undetermined amount of time, and the children would not be able to reside there with him. C.S. testified the last time he saw either Z.S. or A.S. was Father's Day of 2017. C.S. admitted he was at risk to use drugs again if his parental rights are terminated.

         [¶ 6] C.S. testified he provided support to A.S. and Z.S. when his wages were garnished. Since 2015, C.S. had convictions for false reports to law enforcement officers, possession of controlled substances, unauthorized use of personal identifying information, burglary, theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a concealed weapon.

         [¶ 7] In July 2018, the district court entered an order terminating the parental rights of C.S. and C.D. C.S. appealed from the court's order terminating his parental rights, arguing that the court erred by (1) finding he abandoned his children, and (2) determining the causes of deprivation were likely to continue.

         II

         [¶ 8] Section 14-15-19(3), N.D.C.C., authorizes a court to ...


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