In Re: Neveah W.Annotate this Case
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans
This is the second appeal in this case involving a long-running battle between foster parents and the Tennessee Department of Children s Services ( DCS ). In 2014, DCS removed the three-year-old child at issue from her foster home of three years. In the context of this already pending termination and adoption proceeding, the chancery court held an evidentiary hearing and determined that there was insufficient evidence to justify removal and that DCS had taken steps adverse to the child s best interest. The chancery court ordered DCS to return the child to her foster home. On extraordinary appeal, this Court determined that a trial court cannot direct the placement of a foster child within DCS legal custody, but we recognized that the trial court could remove legal custody from DCS and place custody directly with the foster parents if warranted. One week prior to the hearing on remand, DCS participated in a surrender proceeding under a separate docket number and contemporaneously obtained an order of full guardianship over the child. DCS then moved to dismiss as moot the termination, adoption, and custody petitions pending in this case because DCS, as guardian, refused to consent to an adoption by the child s former foster parents. The child s current foster mother attempted to intervene. After a two-day trial, the trial court dismissed the former foster parents petitions as moot and granted the adoption to the current foster mother, as DCS in its role as guardian would only consent to an adoption by her. The child s guardian ad litem appeals. The former foster parents and DCS raise additional issues. We affirm in part, vacate in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.