Parental Termination Because of Diminished Intellectual Abilities in Maryland
In In re Adoption Guardianship Nos. J9610436 and J9711031, 368 Md. 666, 669, 796 A.2d 778 (2002), the circuit court terminated the parental rights of Mr. F., because of his diminished intellectual abilities. See id. at 679.
These deficits temporarily resulted in an inability to provide food for his two children and loss of electricity.
In reversing that decision, the Court of Appeals held that DSS failed to provide the father with any specialized services to assist in parenting with his intellectual and cognitive skill levels. See id. at 682. The Court also focused on key facts about Mr. F.:
The father proffers that he has completed his education, obtained a driver's license, has secured employment, and maintains his own residence, indicating that he can, in fact, parent his own children. Id. at 684.
The Court also found that "the father had made extensive and extraordinary efforts to further reunification with his children." Id. at 694.
The Court of Appeals also considered inadequate the expert testimony that Mr. H. was disabled and unfit to parent.
When assessing the psychiatrist's evaluation, the Court of Appeals opined:
Dr. Blumberg's testimony was, admittedly, conjectural and speculative. A parent's right to parent should rarely, if ever, be terminated based upon conjectures and speculation. The record even reflects that there was little basis for the conjectures and speculation furnished by Dr. Blumberg. Id. at 685.
Additionally, the Court criticized Dr. Blumberg's testimony on the basis that the expert "noted that standard testing was not and could not be completed because of petitioner's inability to read well." Id.