Disher v. Dinwiddie Department of Social Services, Record No 1266-09-2 (Va. Ct. App, February 23, 2010) affirmed the termination of Kathy W. Disher’s parental rights over her daughter, K.D., pursuant to VA Code § 16.1-283 (C). The factual bases for this (unreported) decision were K.D.’s chronic truancy, cessation of psychiatric visits, repeated non-attendance at educational planning meetings, and her living in the same home as her 17-year old brother whom she was forbidden to see.
I understand that Disher had at least three chances to substantially remedy the conditions that led to foster care placement, but I still wonder to what extent her children might have victimized her. We’ve all heard of “death by cop,” which is suicide from pointing a firearm at police. Could K.D. or her brother have intentionally sabotaged their mother’s parental rights?
We do not know K.D.’s age from the opinion. But whatever it was, I do not place all the blame on Disher for her daughter’s failure to attend school. Disher could not have physically forced K.D. to do anything.
We are told that K.D.’s brother had anger issues, ADHD, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder. He allegedly argued, cursed and put holes through walls of the home. Disher might very well have been so physically or psychologically intimidated that she did not call law enforcement to have her son removed.
The Disher decision gives no indication either child willfully promoted the severing of K.D.’s maternal bond. But if their conduct was designed to accomplish that end, it was creative and certainly devastating.