Submitted On Briefs: April 27, 2017
Valerie A. Randall, Esq., Fairfield & Associates, P.A.,
Portland, for appellant mother.
Department of Health and Human Services did not file a brief.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
The mother of Tacoma M. appeals from a judgment of the
District Court (Portland, Powers, J.) terminating
her parental rights to Tacoma pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §
4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (1)(B)(2) (2016). Counsel for the mother
filed a brief indicating that there were no arguable issues
with merit in this appeal and afforded the mother the
opportunity to file a supplemental brief in accordance with
our order dated December 26, 2016. The mother did not file a
supplemental brief. Because the evidence supports the courts
findings and discretionary determinations, we affirm the
Based on competent evidence in the record, the court found,
by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother was unable
to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for
the child within a time reasonably calculated to meet his
needs, had failed to engage in a good faith reunification
effort with the child, and had abandoned the child, and that
termination of the mothers parental rights is in the childs
best interest. See id.; In re Robert S., 2009 ME 18,
¶ 15, 966 A.2d 894. The court based this determination
on the following specific findings of fact.
At the time of the hearing the child was twelve years old.
Until December 2015, he had been living in Maine with his
father for three years. In January 2016, the father contacted
the Department to inform it that he was homeless and could no
longer care for the child, and that he had left the child
with his own mother, who intended to move to Georgia without
the child. He asked the Department to take responsibility for
The Department contacted the mother, who was living in
Florida. She indicated to the Department that she would be
willing to have the child live with her in Florida, but she
could not give a consistent address. The Department also
learned that the mother had not seen the child for three
years and had struggled with opiate addiction. As a result of
the fathers request and the mothers inability to care for
Tacoma, the Department sought and received a preliminary
protection order from the District Court (Powers,
J.) that placed the child in the custody of the
Department as of January 20, 2016.
Neither parent appeared for the jeopardy hearing. Based on
their failures to appear and on their failures to engage in
any attempts at reunification, the court (Eggert,
J.) issued a jeopardy order that found that both parents
had abandoned the child. As a result of that finding, the
court relieved the Department of its obligation to provide
reunification services. The Department filed its petition to
terminate both parents parental rights on June 6, 2016, and
the petition with regard to the mother was heard on August
The mother testified at the termination hearing that she was
sharing a home with three roommates in Florida and had a job.
She admitted to abusing oxycodone-stemming from a 2009 car
accident-but stated that she was receiving methadone
treatments and visiting a counselor weekly. She denied
abusing any substance or having slurred speech in her
contacts with the Department since she began receiving
treatment in 2015, despite credible testimony from two
witnesses to the contrary.
The court noted that, since the case began, the mother never
contacted the child, despite being provided with his contact
information. It also found that she did little to reunify
except sporadically respond to the Departments contact
attempts. She never came to any court events but often
participated by phone.
The child has been living with his foster father in Falmouth
since January 2016. The child does not want to live with his
mother and recounted experiences of drugs and violence when
he lived with her in Florida years ago. He wishes to be
adopted by ...