pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7B-1001(a1)(1) from order
entered on 1 March 2019 by Judge J.H. Corpening II in
District Court, New Hanover County. This matter was
calendared in the Supreme Court on 7 November 2019 but was
determined on the record and briefs without oral argument
pursuant to Rule 30(f) of the North Carolina Rules of
Cairo for petitioner-appellee Social Services of New Hanover
County and K&L Gates LLP, by Abigail F. Williams, for
appellee Guardian ad Litem.
A. Perez for respondent-appellant father.
Richard Croutharmel for respondent-appellant mother.
who is the legal father of the minor child Z.V.A.
(Zoey), and respondent-mother appeal from the
district court's order terminating their parental rights
to Zoey. We affirm.
Background and Procedural History
December 2016, the New Hanover County Department of Social
Services (DSS) received a Child Protective Services report
regarding three-day-old Zoey. The report indicated that there
was domestic violence between respondent-parents, that
respondent-father had issues with alcohol and assaultive
behavior, and that respondent-mother had developmental and
cognitive issues. In response to the report, DSS began
providing in-home services to the family. DSS had previously
worked with respondent-parents from 2012 to 2015 in an
attempt to address issues with an older child. However, the
previous case ended with respondent-father relinquishing his
parental rights to the older child and respondent-mother
having her parental rights terminated by order of the court.
March 2017, a DSS social worker visiting
respondent-parents' residence noticed that
respondent-mother had recently been crying. When asked about
her emotional state, respondent-mother reported that
respondent-father had become angry and had struck
respondent-mother while she was putting Zoey down for a nap.
On 3 April 2017, DSS filed a petition alleging that Zoey was
a neglected and dependent juvenile. Zoey was placed in the
nonsecure custody of DSS.
July 2017, the district court entered an order adjudicating
Zoey as a neglected juvenile based on findings of fact to
which respondent-parents stipulated. Respondent-parents were
both ordered to complete psychological evaluations and
vocational rehabilitation services, and to comply with any
resulting recommendations; to engage in parenting education
programs; to refrain from drug and alcohol use; and to
provide an adequate living environment for Zoey.
Respondent-father was additionally ordered to participate in
paternity testing and to engage in domestic violence
programs. Zoey remained in DSS custody.
June 2018, the district court entered a permanency planning
order. The district court detailed the progress made by
respondent-parents on their respective case plans. The
district court also found that respondent-parents were unable
to translate what they supposedly learned while working their
case plans into successfully changing their behaviors, and as
a result, Zoey could not be returned to the family home. The
district court set the permanent plan as adoption with a
concurrent plan of reunification and ordered DSS to proceed
with termination of respondents' parental rights.
July 2018, DSS filed a petition to terminate respondents'
parental rights pursuant to N.C. G.S. §
7B-1111(a)(1)-(2) (2017). On 10 July 2018, Zoey was placed
with her maternal aunt in New Jersey.
termination hearing was conducted from 29-31 October 2018. On
1 March 2019, the district court entered an order finding
that the evidence established facts sufficient to support the
termination of both respondents' parental rights pursuant
to N.C. G.S. § 7B-1111(a)(1). The district court also
concluded that it was in Zoey's best interest for her
parents' rights to be terminated and thereupon,
terminated respondents' parental rights. Respondents each
gave timely notice of appeal to this Court pursuant to N.C.
G.S. §§ 7A-27(a)(5) and