BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, DAN LEE and ROBERTSON
ROY NOBLE LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
G.M.R., Sr. and B.R., parents of a male, minor child, who was born on October 26, 1976, appeal from a judgment of the Chancery Court of Benton County, Honorable L. Glenn Fant, Jr., presiding, granting the adoption of said child to his foster parents. The appellants have assigned
three (3) errors, which they contend require reversal of the lower court judgment.
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING ABANDONMENT AND DESERTION.
II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING MORAL UNFITNESS.
Appellees held custody of the male child by virtue of a contract for foster home care with the Lee County Department of Public Welfare. After two years, three months of caring for said child, appellees filed a petition for his adoption on September 16, 1982, on the ground that it was for the best interest of the child to be adopted by them. The Lee County Department of Public Welfare and the natural parents moved the court to dismiss the petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The motion was sustained, and on December 17, 1982, appellees filed an amended petition alleging that the natural parents of the child are mentally, morally or otherwise unfit to rear and train the child and that the child had been neglected and abused and had not been given proper physical and emotional care (abandonment). After a hearing on the petition and answers, the lower court entered judgment terminating the parental rights of the natural parents on the grounds of abandonment and desertion and for the reason that the natural parents were mentally, or morally, or otherwise unfit to rear and train the child. Adoption of the child by the foster parents was granted.
The record reflects, and the chancellor found, that the child was originally taken from his natural parents by the Lee County Department of Public Welfare on July 17, 1979, because of the father beating his wife and drinking alcoholic beverages. The child was returned to them a month later and there was no further contact between the Welfare Department and the parents until June, 1980.
In May or June of 1980, both parents were arrested on criminal charges and convicted. The child was taken away from them again and placed with the foster parents, appellees, June 24, 1980. The chancellor found that each of the parents has two felony convictions, viz, the father (1) conspiracy to sell narcotics, and (2) grand larceny of cattle; the mother (1) impersonation and (2) insurance fraud. The chancellor held that the parents had not rehabilitated themselves after those convictions and sentences following. He distinguished the case sub judice in that respect from Mayfield v. Braund,
217 Miss. 514, 64 So. 2d 713 (1953), where a child was originally taken away from his father on account of moral unfitness, viz, being sentenced to prison for ten years on a robbery charge, and the Court held that the father had absolved himself for his unfitness and had become a rehabilitated man.
The chancellor considered the evidence and testimony in the case sub judice and particularly mentioned the testimony of the natural mother and seven (7) witnesses in making his finding of fact. Commenting upon the testimony of Dr. Roy Darby, a clinical psychologist, and Miss Cathy Jordan, a social worker of Benton County, Mississippi, the chancellor found:
Dr. Roy Darby, Clinical Psychologist, testified that G was of average intelligence but was" terrifically disturbed; that while he had no brain disease, he was in psychotic process and had cognitive difficulties, was "deeply frightened" and "very difficult to treat" . That he was a case requiring intense long-term psychotherapy.
Miss Cathy Jordan, a Social Worker of Benton County, Mississippi, testified, substantially, to the same effect. When he was first placed in the S. home, G. was very pale and seemed to be undernourished. He had violent dreams. He was scared, irritable, and anxious. He did not ...