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Abstract

This Note focuses on the termination of parental rights in the context of drug-addicted parents. Termination of parental rights has been characterized as a unique kind of deprivation which has the effect of ending a fundamental liberty interest. In In re Valerie D., Connecticut has established a new precedent in the area of termination of parental rights by holding that parental rights may be terminated at birth solely on the basis of prenatal conduct. This Note discusses Valerie D. in the context of the governmental obligation to promote family integrity and the penumbra of rights residing in the parents, the child and the familial relationship. Part II of the Note sets forth Connecticut law on termination of parental rights exemplified by the lower and appellate court opinions of Valerie D.. Part III briefly explores both the history of the family in our constitutional tradition and other constitutional implications which could arise in a termination of parental rights case. Part IV analyzes Valerie D. and its implications in termination of parental rights cases in light of the constitutional interests involved. The Note concludes that, in deciding whether to terminate these parental rights, the least restrictive alternative should be used.

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