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State ex rel. Children’s Services Division v. Brady

Oregon Court of Appeals
899 P.2d 691 (1995)


Facts

Michelle Brady (defendant) was 18 when her daughter was born prematurely in April 1993. The baby suffered from substantial medical problems. Brady’s relationship with the baby’s father was volatile and sometimes violent. Brady was homeless when she met the father and never completed high school. Despite her circumstances, Brady desired to care for her daughter and visited her daily in the hospital. The Children’s Services Division (CSD) (plaintiff) investigated the couple to determine whether they would be adequate parents. In June 1993, Brady was examined by Dr. James Ewell. Ewell learned that Brady had suffered a traumatic head injury when she was 14, which resulted in continuing medical problems. He diagnosed her with an irreversible condition known as organic personality disorder. Ewell ultimately concluded that Brady lacked the common sense, psychological maturity, and problem-solving skills necessary to care for her daughter. He advised that she not be given custody but also recommended that she receive training before taking her daughter home, including classes in parenting, anger-management, and continuing education. He also recommended that she receive psychotherapy and live in a residential environment where she would receive support from an experienced caregiver. After CSD received Ewell’s report, it assigned custody of the baby to a foster parent. Brady visited the baby regularly. In October 1993, Brady’s parenting skills were evaluated by Margaret Veltman of the BASE program. Veltman concluded that Brady was presently unable to care for her daughter despite showing an interest in doing so. When the baby was eight months old, CSD petitioned to have Brady’s parental rights permanently terminated. CSD had not provided Brady any assistance or other support in obtaining the training that had been recommended. Nevertheless, Brady attempted to improve her situation on her own. She underwent counseling and began parenting classes, took steps to sever her relationship with the baby’s father, pursued a general equivalency diploma, and began volunteering at a senior center. The termination proceeding was held in October 1994. Brady’s counselor challenged Ewell’s determination that she had an irreversible psychological condition and provided evidence that Brady’s skills were improving. The baby continued to need medical care but its future needs were indeterminable. Brady herself testified as to her capacity to care for the child. The trial court granted CSD’s petition, and Brady appealed.

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