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In re Myra B.

Supreme Court of Maine

August 1, 2017

IN RE MYRA B. et al.

          Submitted On Briefs: July 20, 2017

         Belfast District Court docket number PC-2015-4

          Thomas F. Shehan, Jr., Esq., Searsport, for appellant father

          Jeremy Pratt, Esq., and Ellen Simmons, Esq., Camden, for appellant mother

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Hunter C. Umphrey, 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, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

          PER CURIAM .

         [¶l] The parents of Myra B. and Nicole B. appeal from a judgment of the District Court (Belfast, Worth, /.) terminating their parental rights to the children pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i), (b)(ii) (2016). They challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support the judgment and the court's discretionary determinations of the children's best interests. Because the evidence supports the court's findings and discretionary determinations, we affirm the judgment.

         [¶2] Based on competent evidence in the record, the court found by clear and convincing evidence that the parents were unwilling or unable to protect the children from jeopardy within a time reasonably calculated to meet their needs, unable to take responsibility for the children within a time reasonably calculated to meet their needs, and that termination of their parental rights was in each child's best interest. See In re Caleb M., 2017 ME 66, ¶ 27, 159 A.3d 345. The court based this determination on the following supported factual findings:

At the jeopardy hearing..., the parties agreed and the Court found that Myra and Nicole were in circumstances of jeopardy in the care of [either parent] due to:
serious abuse or neglect as evidenced by the threat of serious harm, including serious injury, and/or serious mental and emotional impairment, and the deprivation of adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, and/or care. This abuse or neglect is due, in part, to unsanitary and unsafe conditions of the home, the ongoing exposure of the children to significant conflict and domestic violence, and [each parent's] insufficiently and inconsistently treated mental health [.]
Nicole and Myra have been living with their maternal aunt. . . since being placed there by agreement in April, 2015, an arrangement continued when the children came into the State's custody in May, 2015. When the children first moved into the [foster] home, they presented with many problems. Myra was self-abusive, biting and hitting herself, and striking her head against walls and floors. Nicole had the habit of hiding behind furniture and inside closets. They have hurt themselves, each other and third persons, damaged property and disrupted classrooms. The children have described seeing their parents fight and hurt each other, hurt their half-brother... and hurt them. Whenever the girls hear a raised voice or an angry voice, they start to act badly, or try to get away and hide. One of the children has told [the foster mother] that she is scared of her mother, and does not want to be hurt anymore. She has also said that she does not like it when daddy takes a belt to her. Both children have required psychiatric hospitalization.
... In their aunt's home, their aggressiveness against each other has diminished. They have gained some ability to be calm and non-violent. However, ... the girls still have grave behavioral and mental health struggles. They require consistent, supportive, informed, capable parenting.
Unfortunately, neither parent has made sufficient progress towards the alleviation of jeopardy to be able to provide these individual girls, with their serious, particular and ...

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