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In re L.D.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

September 3, 2015

IN RE L.D

Submitted on Briefs July 1, 2015.

On the briefs: Andrew T. Dawson, Esq., Goodspeed & O'Donnell, Augusta, for appellant Father.

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.

OPINION

Page 991

MEAD, J.

[¶1] The father of L.D. appeals from a judgment entered by the District Court (Augusta, Stanfill, J. ) terminating his parental rights to the child and denying his kinship placement request. We affirm the judgment terminating his parental rights to the child. We dismiss the appeal with regard to the kinship placement request pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4006 (2014).

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] L.D. was born on May 8, 2013, premature and severely drug-affected due to the mother's use of opiates during the pregnancy. The mother had multiple positive drug screens during her pregnancy, and L.D. tested positive for morphine at birth. The father has a severe and long-standing drug addiction. When L.D. was born, the father, who denied paternity, was on probation as a result of a conviction for unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 1103(1-A)(A) (2014). Both parents fell asleep while feeding and caring for L.D. at the hospital.

[¶3] A preliminary protection order was issued on May 23, 2013. L.D. was discharged from the hospital and placed with her mother's cousin on May 29, 2013, and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) started an investigation into the paternity of the child. Less than a month later, L.D. was placed in a foster home with nonrelative foster parents.

[¶4] In July 2013, the father was arrested for violating his probation and was incarcerated until January 2014. While the father was incarcerated, on October 8, 2013, the same day that paternity testing results established that he was the father of the child, the court entered a jeopardy order as to the father finding that he had a substance abuse issue, numerous criminal convictions, and was unable to protect L.D. from the mother's substance abuse.[1]

[¶5] When the father was released from custody, he attended visits with L.D. and participated in reunification efforts. However, the father again began to use drugs with the mother soon thereafter, and his visits with L.D. became inconsistent. In March 2014 the father was admitted to a methadone clinic and admitted to using heroin. He continued with the methadone clinic for about one month, missed some drug screens, and in April 2014 tested positive for opiates twice.

Page 992

[¶6] On April 10, 2014, both parents attended a daylong evaluation of L.D., but they appeared to be under the influence of drugs and disinterested in the evaluation process. In the late morning, the father received a phone call and both parents left the evaluation and did not return for the scheduled afternoon session. The next day, the father was arrested for violating his probation. His ...


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