The Second Department, reversing Family Court, determined the petitioner did not prove mother had abandoned her children. Mother’s parental rights should not have been terminated:
… [T]he petitioner failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the mother evinced an intent to forego her parental rights. The record demonstrates that, during the six-month abandonment period, the mother visited with the children on two occasions, saw the children on at least one additional occasion at a family gathering, purchased clothing for the children, spoke with the case worker on the phone multiple times, and objected to the goal for the children’s placement changing to a kinship adoption rather than returning the children to the mother. Under these circumstances, the Family Court should have denied the petitions on the merits, insofar as asserted against the mother … . We further note that the record contains testimony from a case worker that, during family visits subsequent to the filing of the petitions, the mother’s interactions with the children were “very positive.” “While a parent’s conduct outside the abandonment period is not determinative in an abandonment proceeding, it may be relevant to assessing parental intent” … . Matter of Grace E. W.-F. (Zanovia W.), 2022 NY Slip Op 03119, Second Dept 5-11-22
Practice Point: The petitioner did not present clear and convincing evidence that mother abandoned her children. The termination of parental rights petition should not have have been granted. Mother had visited the children, seen the children at a family gathering, purchased clothing for the children and frequently talked to the case worker.