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Agency Can’t Punish |Mom for Seeking Help

(CN) - A mother was wrongfully stripped of her parental rights because she asked for help in caring for her 8-year-old son, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

The son, identified only as M.S., suffers from a personality disorder that causes him to act aggressively toward others.

The trial court terminated his mother's parental rights after she requested help from the Department of Children Services (DCS).

The parties now agree that the boy's needs are best met by full-time care in a medical facility, because M.S. requires a structured environment and close supervision.

His mother sought help because M.S. would hurt her while she tried to keep him from hurting himself or his siblings. He kicks, bites, spits, hits people and throws objects.

Despite a variety of intervention services from DCS, the mother still needed help. DCS then filed for termination of the parents' rights. The father did not protest.

Judge Baker reversed the trial court's decision terminating the mother's rights.

"Everyone who testified agreed the mother loves her children and did everything that was asked of her," the judge wrote. "To say the mother's rights should be terminated would send a sobering message indeed to all the parents in Indiana who need ongoing medical of psychological assistance."

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