Assigned on Briefs June 1, 2017 
from the Juvenile Court for Knox County No. 59186 Timothy E.
mother's parental rights to her child were terminated on
the ground of mental incompetence and upon the finding that
termination was in the child's best interest. Mother
appeals, contending that the ground is not supported by the
evidence and that termination of her parental rights is not
in the best interest of the child. Finding no error, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Gregory E. Bennett, Seymour, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; Jordan K.
Crews, Assistant Attorney General; and Kathryn A. Baker,
Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee
Department of Children's Services.
Christine L. Dummer, Knoxville, Tennessee, Guardian ad litem.
Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and J. Steven Stafford,
P.J., W.S., joined.
RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
an appeal from the order terminating the parental rights of
LaToya G. ("Mother") to her daughter, Tanya. The
Department of Children's Services ("DCS")
received custody of Tanya as a result of a proceeding DCS
initiated in Knox County Juvenile Court on February 22, 2016,
two days after Tanya's birth, to have Tanya declared
dependent and neglected because of the state of Mother's
mental health, which had resulted in Mother's involuntary
commitment. After issuing a Protective Custody Order granting
temporary legal custody of Tanya to DCS, a hearing was held,
and the court found Tanya to be dependent and neglected; an
Interim Order allowing DCS to retain custody of Tanya was
9, 2016, the court ratified a permanency plan and ordered
that Mother be allowed supervised visitation with
Tanya. On October 20, 2016, DCS moved to suspend
Mother's visitation due to Mother's inappropriate
actions during visitation; the motion was granted. Of
pertinence to the instant appeal, the Order noted:
Ms. Capps testified that the mother would tell the child to
shut up and would call her names such as "bitch, "
"whore, " and "rat." The mother would
also refuse any help during her visits despite the fact that
the child would cry for so long that she would start to
hyperventilate. The mother would also act erratically during
the visits and is typically finished with the visits before
the entire scheduled time has elapsed. The Court finds from
all of the above that the mother's use of profanity
towards the child during visitation is indicative of the
mother's mental state and the mother's refusal to
allow the workers present at the visit to assist with the
child is indicative of the mother's [in]stability.
instant case was initiated on March 2, 2016, when DCS filed a
petition to terminate Mother's parental rights on the
ground of mental incompetence; the petition alleged:
1.Respondent is incompetent to adequately provide for the
further care and supervision of the child because
Respondent's mental condition is presently so impaired
and is so likely to remain so that it is unlikely that she
will be able to assume the care of and responsibility for the
child in the near future.
2.Tanya [G.] is the fifth child to be removed from
Respondent's custody due to her mental condition.
Following hearings that concluded on November 1, 2006, this
Court found Respondent incompetent to parent and terminated
her parental rights to two older half-siblings, . Her
parental rights to  were terminated several years later on
similar grounds.  was placed in the custody of his paternal
grandparents. Respondent's mental condition has not
improved in any regard, and there is no reason to believe
that she will ever be in a position to safely care for
3.Respondent gave birth to Tanya [G.] in a toilet at home and
yelled for help from her boyfriend, James [O.]. They fished
the baby out and then dropped her because she was slippery.
They were brought to the hospital by ambulance. Respondent
reported she had not known she was pregnant and Mr. O[.]
agreed. He stated that he had taken her in off the street
about three months before. She had received no prenatal care
and had not been taking any prescribed psychotropic
medication at least since he took her in. Respondent appeared
confused, agitated, and delusional.
4. A psychiatric consultation resulted in Respondent's
involuntary commitment. The evaluator noted that Respondent
has a long history of mental illness including repeated
emergency room treatment. She had been found on
somebody's porch, had claimed twice to have been
kidnapped, and on another occasion was found walking down the
street without clothing. Her mental status examination
concluded: "She is paranoid, disorganized, and
irritable. Her conversation is loose. She contradicts
herself. She has been talking to unseen others. She appeared
to have chronic untreated mental illness. Her memory and
concentration are poor. Her insight and judgment are
currently impaired." The diagnostic assessment was
Schizophrenia, untreated; currently delusional.
5. Respondent's history includes repeated
hospitalizations and multiple psychological evaluations.
According to such an evaluation in 2007, her "mental
illness is severe, persistent and causing her to lack
capacity/competence to understand facts and to make rational
decisions based upon such facts." She has failed and
refused to cooperate with treatment. She is often paranoid,
easily angered, and her behavior is unpredictable.
termination hearing took place on November 14, 2016. On
December 6 the court issued an order terminating Mother's
filed her first Notice of Appeal on November 28, 2016, which
was not signed by either Mother or her counsel. On February
7, 2017, this Court ordered Mother to file an amended notice
of appeal; the trial court appointed appellate counsel for
Mother, and an amended Notice of Appeal was filed on February
23, 2017. Mother presents the following issues for
I. Did the trial court err in finding by clear and convincing
evidence, that the Mother was incompetent to adequately
provide for the further care and supervision of the child
because the Mother's mental condition was so impaired and
was likely to remain impaired so that it is unlikely that the
Mother may assume or resume the care and responsibility for
the minor child as defined by Tennessee Code Annotated
II. Did the trial court err in finding by clear and
convincing evidence, that termination of the parental rights
of the Mother was in the best interest of the child as
defined by Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-113(i)?
STANDARD OF REVIEW
have a fundamental right to the care, custody, and control of
their children. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645,
651 (1972); In re Adoption of A.M.H., 215 S.W.3d
793, 809 (Tenn. 2007). However, that right is not absolute
and may be terminated under certain circumstances.
Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753-54 (1982);
State Dep't of Children's Servs. v. C.H.K.,
154 S.W.3d 586, 589 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2004). However, because
of the fundamental nature of parental rights, courts must
apply a higher standard of proof when adjudicating
termination cases. Santosky, 455 U.S. at 766-69. A
court may terminate parental rights only if (1) the existence
of at least one statutory ground is proved by clear and
convincing evidence, and (2) it is shown by clear and
convincing evidence that termination of parental rights is in
the best interest of the child. Tenn. Code Ann. §
36-1-113(c); In re Adoption of A.M.H., 215 S.W.3d at
808-09; In re Valentine, 79 S.W.3d 539, 546 (Tenn.
light of the heightened standard of proof required, an
appellate court must adapt the customary standard of review
set forth by Rule 13(d) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate
Procedure. In re M.J.B., 140 S.W.3d 643, 654 (Tenn.
Ct. App. 2004). As to the court's findings of
fact, our review is de novo with a presumption of
correctness, unless the evidence preponderates otherwise, in
accordance with Rule 13(d) of the Tennessee Rules of
Appellate Procedure. Id. We must then determine
whether the facts, "as found by the trial court or as
supported by the preponderance of the evidence, clearly and
convincingly establish the elements" necessary to
terminate parental rights. Id. Clear and convincing
evidence is "evidence in which there is no serious or
substantial doubt about the correctness of the conclusions
drawn from the evidence, " which "produces a firm
belief or conviction in the fact-finder's mind regarding
the truth of the facts sought to be established." In
re Alysia S., 460 S.W.3d 536, 572 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2014)
(internal citations omitted).
first address DCS' argument that the notice of appeal
filed by Mother was "jurisdictionally deficient"
because it was not signed by Mother, in violation of
Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-124(d), or by her
counsel, as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure
11.01(a), and that, because of this deficiency, the notice
filed February 23, 2017, was untimely. We decline to dismiss
this appeal on the basis urged.
technical record contains a form headed "IN THE JUVENILE
COURT FOR KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE" and entitled
"NOTICE OF APPEAL, " in which Mother's name is
handwritten as the party taking the appeal and the name of
this Court circled as the court to which the appeal is taken.
The date of signature is written in as "the 28 day of
November, 2016" and the form bears the Clerk's stamp
as being filed at 10:19 a.m. on November 28, 2016. Next in
the record appear two orders entered by the Juvenile Court on
December 6, both of which reference a hearing on November 14;
the first order was entered in the dependent and neglect
proceeding and the second being the order terminating
Mother's rights. Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure
4(d) allows that "a prematurely filed notice of appeal
shall be treated as filed after the entry of the judgment
from which the appeal is taken and on the day thereof."
Thus, subject to DCS' contention that the November 28
notice was not signed, the notice was timely filed.
termination proceeding was initiated on March 2, 2016;
Attorney Adam Moncier was appointed to represent Mother by
order entered April 19; there is no order relieving Mr. Moncier
of his duties as counsel. The record does not reflect any
other involvement by Mr. Moncier after the adjournment of the
November 14 hearing. It is not disputed that Mother filled
out and signed the form "NOTICE OF APPEAL"
indicating a desire to have the termination of her rights
reviewed. Under the circumstances presented, Mother's