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In re Adoption of S.J.B.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

September 27, 2017

IN RE THE ADOPTION OF: S.J.B., a minor.
v.
J.B., Respondent-Appellant. LAWRENCE COUNTY JUVENILE OFFICE, Petitioner-Respondent,

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LAWRENCE COUNTY Honorable Scott S. Sifferman, Judge

          Before Rahmeyer, C.J./P.J., Scott, J., and Francis, J.

          PER CURIAM.

         Appellant J.B. challenges a termination of her parental rights to her daughter S.J.B. ("Child"), raising two points, the nature and disposition of which obviate our need to detail a sad and sordid factual backdrop that the concurring opinion describes in some detail.

         Here, it is enough to note that J.B. is a low-functioning person (IQ 69) whose stepfather, a registered sex offender, sexually abused her as a child, then impregnated her as an adult. Child was prematurely born of that union; spent a month in NICU; then was transferred to Children's Division custody and care due in part to J.B.'s hospital behavior. Ultimately, upon petition and after a hearing, the court terminated J.B.'s parental rights, finding as statutory grounds therefor both abuse/neglect (§ 211.447.5(2)) and failure to rectify (§ 211.447.5(3)), and that such termination was in Child's best interest.[1]

         J.B. appeals from this judgment. We take her points in reverse order.

         Point II

         J.B. challenges the court's findings on (1) the abuse/neglect ground for termination, and (2) Child's best interest. The abuse/neglect complaint fails for two reasons. First, J.B.'s

failure to challenge [both] grounds upon which the trial court terminated her parental rights makes it unnecessary for this court to review her allegations of error concerning the court's termination on the basis of abuse and neglect, since the existence of only one of the grounds is necessary to uphold the termination.

In re W.T.O., 85 S.W.3d 756, 757 (Mo.App. 2002). Second, in Murphy v. Carron[2] terms, J.B. necessarily is challenging either the sufficiency or weight of the evidence supporting the abuse/neglect finding. In either case, disregard for the analytical mandates of Houston v. Crider, 317 S.W.3d 178 (Mo.App. 2010), and its progeny renders J.B.'s arguments analytically useless. Compare In re Adoption of I.M.W., 522 S.W.3d 301, 306-08 (Mo.App. 2017).

         Houston noncompliance likewise dooms J.B.'s evidentiary challenge to the best-interest finding. Nonetheless, we have gratuitously reviewed the record and are satisfied that the best-interest finding is supported by the record as we must view it, in the light most favorable to the judgment. See In re I.R.S., 445 S.W.3d 616, 617 (Mo.App. 2014). Point II fails.

         Point I

         J.B. claims error in admitting a 18-month-old psychological evaluation that she urged at trial was dated enough "that that evaluation is not dispositive in this case. And we presented case law that showed that it would not be dispositive, " to which the court replied:

but that's a different issue than admissibility, whether or not it is dispositive or binding upon the Court. ...

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