May 11, 1995
Appeal from the Family Court, New York County (Sheldon Rand, J.).
The finding of permanent neglect was supported by clear and convincing evidence where, despite the agency's diligent efforts, for over one year respondent did not enter or complete a drug rehabilitation program or maintain sufficient contact with her children (Social Services Law § 384-b [a]). The court properly found that the agency exerted diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parent-child relationship (Social Services Law § 384-b [f]) by urging respondent to attend and complete a drug rehabilitation program and submit proof of same, making referrals, arranging visitation, and seeking to maintain contact despite respondent's failure to do so. The statutory obligation is "subject to the rule of reason" (Matter of O. Children, 128 A.D.2d 460, 464), that the agency is not a guarantor of a parent's success in overcoming his or her predicaments (Matter of Sheila G., 61 N.Y.2d 368, 385). A finding of permanent neglect is warranted despite participation in programs where there are relapses and the problem has not been ameliorated (Matter of S. Children, 210 A.D.2d 175).
The court properly found that the children's best interests would be served by termination of parental rights, as there is no presumption that such interests are best served by return to the natural parent (Matter of Star Leslie W., 63 N.Y.2d 136, 147-148). The children had bonded with the foster parents and there was no evidence of a positive, meaningful relationship with respondent to warrant a suspended judgment (see, Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d 299, 311), and despite respondent's progress, there was no evidence of completion of a rehabilitation program or that respondent was drug free.
Finally, as no objection was made to the court interviewing the children in camera without a stenographic record, the issue was not preserved for appellate review. In any event, such interview was not improper (see, Matter of Lincoln v Lincoln, 24 N.Y.2d 270).
Concur — Ross, J.P., Nardelli, Williams, Tom and Mazzarelli, JJ.