Q: Grounds for termination of parental rights?
We have had custody of a family member since she was 4 months old. (Currently 4 years old) she was removed from her mom (dad unknown) right after birth due to the baby testing positive for meth. Mom has a long standing drug history and a lengthy criminal history associated. A couple months after the child was removed the mother was sent to prison for 2 yrs for a previous charge. We were granted custody w/the intent to give her back. However while serving the two yrs she was convicted on another drug charge and sentenced to an additional 10 yrs in federal prison. We no longer intend to give her back. We filed a TPR & were given a free lawyer who went from 'you're 100 percent gonna win" to "we're going to lose because WE take the child to see the parent every 3-4 months" mom doesn't call often, WE make almost all the effort for her. We feel like our lawyer just doesn't want to deal with it anymore and want to know should we seek other counsel and continue or do we not have a chance?
A: Well, first and foremost being in a courtroom battle is one of the most stressful times in anyone's life. Whether your counsel is appointed or retained you want and I would say need to feel comfortable with your representation. If you are not happy and don't feel comfortable it is wise to seek out someone with whom you feel comfortable. Given the circumstances your describe it would likely be better for you to go the adoption route rather than the TPR route. Even then you bringing the child to visit the mother creates a problem. If there is six month no emotional support or contact and six month no financial support the child is considered abandoned under Alabama law and is available to adoption. The mother could also always consent to the adoption and clearly she has to realize this would be in the best interest of the child.
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