Matter of James WW v. Tara XX
Justice Michael Kavanagh
Mother appealed from two orders granting Rensselaer County Department of Social Services' (DSS) petition adjudicating James a permanently neglected child and terminating mother's parental rights. Mother executed a judicial surrender of her parental rights, but moved to withdraw the surrender, claiming she was under the influence of drugs at the time she made the decision. Further, she argued for the first time that James should be placed with Jewish foster parents. The mother's motion to withdraw the surrender was granted and a fact-finding hearing on the permanent neglect petition was held. Family Court found the mother permanently neglected the child, concluding it was in his best interest that her parental rights be terminated and the child be freed for adoption by his foster parents. This panel affirmed DSS' finding that diligent efforts were made to strengthen and promote the parental relationship between mother and child, yet her failure to comply with Family Court's dispositional orders and refusal to cooperate with DSS made reunification impossible. Also, mother's belated request that child be placed in a Jewish home were subordinated by James' best interest of being freed for adoption with the foster parents with whom he's lived for nearly 18 months.