Submitted On Briefs July 1, 2015.
On the briefs: Erika S. Bristol, Esq., Auburn, for appellant mother.
Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services.
Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.
[¶1] The mother of I.R. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Portland, Powers, J. ) terminating her parental rights to the child pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2) (2014). The mother argues that there is insufficient evidence in
the record to support the court's findings, by clear and convincing evidence, of at least one ground of parental unfitness. We affirm the judgment.
[¶2] The record supports the following findings of the court by clear and convincing evidence. See In re M.S., 2014 ME 54, ¶ 13, 90 A.3d 443.
[¶3] The mother suffers from a significant mental illness. Due to concerns about the effect of that illness on her mental capacity, the court assigned the mother her own guardian ad litem in these proceedings. The mother spent time in psychiatric facilities in 2013 and 2014, and has a history of suicidal thoughts. The mother lived in multiple states while this case was pending.
[¶4] The Department of Health and Human Services initiated child protection proceedings concerning I.R. in 2012, while he was still in the hospital after having been born two months premature. The Department alleged that the mother has schizo-affective disorder, for which she does not consistently take her medication; in the forty days the child spent in the hospital after his birth, the mother spent very little time with him and did not understand the nature of the child's needs or the seriousness of his medical condition; and the mother had agreed that she was uncomfortable caring for the child alone. The mother later agreed to a finding of jeopardy concerning the child based on her untreated mental health issues, her inability to care for the child's daily needs, her inability to care for the child's particular medical and developmental needs, and her lack of overall stability. See 22 M.R.S. § § 4002(6), 4035 (2014).
[¶5] Since child protection proceedings began, the mother has not engaged in any reunification services, including mental health counseling or parenting education. The mother also has not visited the child with any consistency; in the summer of 2014, for example, she saw him six times. During those visits, the mother did not interact with the child, and the court found that she has no " real relationship" with him.
[¶6] In 2014, the Department filed a petition to terminate the mother's parental rights, alleging that the mother has a history of command auditory hallucinations and suicidal ideation; has a history of substance abuse; while pregnant again, was admitted to a hospital in Massachusetts due to her reports of auditory hallucinations and suicidal statements; moved to Maryland without notifying the Department of her move; had no contact with her child for five months after she left Maine; has not engaged in any mental health treatment or reunification services; has no stable housing; does not engage with the child during the visits she does have with the child, and instead watches him and makes no attempt to interact with him; and has no ability to care for the child. The court conducted a ...