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TPR – Grounds – CHIPS Order

State v. Anastasia S., 2011AP1423 / State v. Lemar T., 2011AP1403, District 1, 10/4/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Anastasia S.: Kevin M. Long, Brandon Gutschow; case activity; for Lemar T.: Jane S. Earle; case activity

¶18      “Grounds for termination [of parental rights] must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.”  Ann M.M. v. Rob S., 176 Wis. 2d 673, 682, 500 N.W.2d 649 (1993).  According to Wis. Stat. § 48.415(2)(a)2., the Bureau must make a “reasonable effort” to provide the services ordered by the court.  “‘[R]easonable effort’ means an earnest and conscientious effort to take good faith steps to provide the services ordered by the court which takes into consideration the characteristics of the parent or child[,] … the level of cooperation of the parent[,] … and other relevant circumstances of the case.”  Id. 

¶23      A relevant consideration in determining “‘reasonable effort’” to provide services is the parents’ “level of cooperation.”  Wis. Stat.§ 48.415(2)(a)2.a.  Lemar T.’s transient lifestyle, his inability to finish any classes, and his persistent drug use reflected a low level of cooperation which, in turn, hampered the Bureau’s ability to help him meet the conditions for the return of Ariel T. Given the overall picture, the trial court easily and properly concluded that the Bureau had made reasonable efforts to provide Lemar T. with the court ordered services.

¶24      The conduct of Anastasia S. during the pendency of these proceedings was significantly different than that of Lemar T.  Anastasia S. was motivated and cooperative in her desire to be reunited with her daughter.  She completed all the classes that she was sent to and had regular supervised visitations with Ariel T.  While the testimony reflected Anastasia S.’s desire to be reunited with her daughter, most of the people who witnessed Anastasia S.’s interaction with Ariel T.  felt that Anastasia S. was incapable of parenting Ariel T. by herself.  Anastasia S. worked hard at reuniting with her daughter, but she simply does not have the capacity to parent a child. …

¶25      …  Neither Lemar T. or Anastasia S. attended a life skills education course, but comparable services were provided in other ordered programs.  Thus, the finding that the Bureau did make reasonable efforts to provide the services ordered by the court is not clearly erroneous.  Despite the many programs, classes and aides given to Anastasia S., Anastasia S., through no fault of her own, was simply unable to independently parent Ariel T.  On the other hand, Lemar T.’s lack of cooperation led the trial court to find him unfit.  Given the trial court’s findings, the trial court properly exercised its discretion in finding that Ariel T.’s best interest lie with adoption.

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