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In re Pope

547 S.E.2d 153 (2001)

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In re Pope

North Carolina Court of Appeals

547 S.E.2d 153 (2001)

Facts

The Buncombe County Department of Social Services (plaintiff) petitioned to terminate Rachel Pope’s (defendant’s) parental rights. Pope’s sister took the child to a pediatrician at nine months old. Before that, Pope had taken the child only to naturopaths and chiropractors. The pediatrician immediately admitted the child to the hospital because at only 12 pounds, she was starving to death and failing to thrive. Hospital doctors ruled out medical reasons for the child’s condition, indicating Pope’s not providing proper care caused it. Pope consented to a neglect adjudication, had a psychological evaluation, completed parenting classes, and visited the child twice a week. However, Pope had a personality disorder with seriously disturbed thinking unlikely to change and continued to deny any wrongdoing. Instead, Pope blamed the child’s condition on her sister and did not know why the child was starving. During supervised visits, Pope brought and tried to feed the child inappropriate food. Pope clearly loved her child, made sincere efforts to regain custody, and complied with all court orders, but did not show she understood and could change in ways necessary to provide a safe and nurturing environment. Instead, she testified that the only thing she would change if the child returned to her care would be getting a pediatrician. The trial court terminated Pope’s parental rights based on the original neglect adjudication and found neglect likely to recur if the child returned to Pope’s care. Pope appealed, arguing that the court erred in finding that she would continue to neglect the child when she had complied with all the services offered to her and made progress in therapy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Greene, J.)

Dissent (Tyson, J.)

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