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TPR – Exercise of Discretion

State v. LaDonna E., 2010AP1733, District 1, 12/7/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for LaDonna E.: Jane S. Earle

Termination of parental rights upheld. Mother (LaDonna E.), after defaulting on grounds phase, challenged termination on basis that child’s aunt, who had custody and wanted to adopt child, should be appointed guardian instead.

¶9        The circuit court noted that “Kenny will be adopted.”  See Wis. Stat. § 48.426(3)(a).  It also recognized that the boy was too young to express a preference but, based on the testimony it heard during the disposition phase (where it was undisputed that LaDonna E.’s aunt had bonded with the boy and that he calls her, according to her testimony, “[m]ommy”), that adoption would “formalize[] what is the reality in his mind; [the aunt] is and should remain his ‘mother.’”  See § 48.426(3)(d).  The circuit court thus concluded, as we have seen, that termination was required because it was the boy’s best chance to have “stability and permanence.”  In light of all this, it is abundantly clear that the circuit court sensitively and consistent with the law addressed all of the applicable factors.  It did not, by any stretch of the imagination, erroneously exercise its discretion in rejecting the attempt to reduce the aunt’s role to that of a mere guardian.

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