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Loe v. Mother, Father, and Berkeley County Department of Social Services

675 S.E.2d 807 (2009)

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Loe v. Mother, Father, and Berkeley County Department of Social Services

South Carolina Court of Appeals

675 S.E.2d 807 (2009)

Facts

A young mother (defendant) had a three-year-old girl and six-month-old twins, a boy and a girl. The mother’s husband (defendant) abused the girl twin, causing a brain injury that left the girl developmentally delayed. The twin boy also had special needs. The Department of Social Services (department) (defendant) removed the children while it investigated the abuse. The older girl was soon returned to her mother, but the twins remained with separate foster families. The mother divorced the abuser, took good care of the older sister, visited the twins regularly, and did everything the department asked her to do. The twins’ medical needs were a challenge for the mother, but she kept trying and was eventually able to successfully take care of the twins by herself on weekends and one afternoon per week. Because the department had moved slowly and caused delays, the twins had been in foster care for three years by the time the department was ready to reunite them with their mother. At that point, each of the twins’ foster parents (plaintiffs) moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights and adopt the twin in their care. It was undisputed that the foster parents had been excellent parents and had much to offer the children, who still had significant special needs. The department and the mother opposed the motion, arguing that the mother was a fit parent. The trial court found that four statutory grounds justified termination of the mother’s parental rights: (1) the mother’s home was unsafe, (2) the mother had not remedied the abuse problem, (3) the mother’s temporary depression diagnosis two years previously made her an unfit parent, and (4) the twins had been in foster care for 15 of the prior 22 months. The trial court terminated the mother’s parental rights and granted the foster parents’ adoption petitions. The mother appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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