Low IQ - Termination of the Parental Rights

In In Re: D.A., 113 Ohio St. 3d 88, 2007 Ohio 1105, 862 N.E.2d 829, the Ohio Supreme Court addressed the propriety of the trial court's termination of the parental rights, privileges and responsibilities of parents with limited intellectual capacity. The psychological evaluations revealed the father had an IQ of 62, and the mother had an IQ of 59. The psychologist concluded the parents' mental conditions severely limited their ability to provide adequate care for their child. After a hearing on the agency's motion for permanent custody, the trial court found, although the parents loved their child very much and were willing to do anything necessary to bring him home, returning the child to them was not in his best interest because they have "very low cognitive skills that hinder their day to day functioning" and "demonstrate no ability to engage in the type of complex thinking necessary to parent a child". Id at par. 5. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. On review, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed, holding, "When determining the best interest of a child under R.C. 2151.414(D) at a permanent custody hearing, a trial court may not base a decision solely on the limited cognitive abilities of the parents." Id at par. 36. The Supreme Court continued R.C. 2151.414 "does not permit a parent's fundamental right to raise his or her child to be terminated based on mental retardation alone." Id at par. 37. The Court noted, "Despite making several findings regarding the parents' limited cognitive abilities, the trial court did not find that appellants were unable to provide an adequate home for D.A. due to their mental retardation, a finding that is required to satisfy R.C. 2151.414(E)(2). Furthermore, the evidence does not support a finding that appellants failed to provide D.A. with an adequate permanent home. There is no evidence that he lacked adequate clothing, food, shelter, or care. He performed well in school and displayed appropriate behavior." Id at par. 33.