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In re Damein F.

Supreme Court of Maine

October 12, 2017

IN RE DAMEIN F.

          Submitted On Briefs: September 27, 2017

          Judgment affirmed. Michelle A. Dolley, Esq., Law Office of E. Anne Carton, Brunswick, for appellant father

          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 HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM

         [¶1] The father of Damein F. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Lewiston, Dow, J.) terminating his parental rights pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii) (2016). The father challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the judgment.[1] Because the evidence supports the court's findings, we affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The court found the following facts, which are supported by competent record evidence, by clear and convincing evidence. See In re Caleb M., 2017 ME 66, ¶ 27, 159 A.3d 345.

          [¶3] Damein F. was born on July 13, 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed a child protection petition on November 5, 2014. The court (Lewiston, Schneider, J.) entered a preliminary protection order that day, placing Damein in State custody.

         [¶4] For the first year of Damein's life, the father was incarcerated. He had been unable to post bail on burglary, theft, and other charges related to a crime spree he conducted with Damein's mother in 2014. After entering into a plea agreement in the Co-Occurring Disorders and Veterans Court (CODVC) on July 14, 2015, the father was released from jail and placed on three years of probation.[2] The father agreed to a jeopardy order on October 1, 2015.

         [¶5] After the father's release from jail, the Department made reasonable efforts to rehabilitate and reunify father and child, [3] including supervised and unsupervised visitation, drug screening and psychological assessment for the father, and planning for trial placement to begin in late June or early July 2016. The court found that "[u]nder the structure of the CODVC, the father has done remarkably well. He seems to have engaged earnestly with service providers and sought out additional supports. He had nearly 34 months clean and sober by the last day of trial."

         [¶6] Despite the father's efforts, in May 2016,

[a]fter only the second overnight visit [with Damein] . . . [t]he father left the daycare and went directly to the . . . hospital, resulting in a twelve-day psychiatric admission. The records from that hospital stay indicate that the father was overwhelmed by the combined stressors of substance abuse recovery work and child reunification work. ... [H]e returned later in July for another six-day stint for crisis stabilization.

         [¶7] On July 12, 2016, the Department filed a petition to terminate parental rights. A termination hearing for the father was held on December 14 and 16, 2016, and January 6, 2017. The guardian ad litem (GAL) recommended termination and believed it to be in the child's best interest. According to the GAL, the foster family was Damein's "de ...


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