IN RE ALEXAVIER G. et al.
Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2017
Deborah Munson Feagans, Esq., Gorham, for appellant Mother.
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.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, JABAR, HJELM, and
REPORTER OF DECISIONS
The mother of Alexavier G. and Amaiya W. appeals from the
District Courts (Portland, Eggert, J.) judgment
terminating her parental rights to the children pursuant to
22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (1)(B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii), (iv)
(2017). She challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
support the courts findings that she failed to take
responsibility for her children, is unwilling and unable to
protect the children from jeopardy, and that both of these
circumstances are unlikely to change within a time reasonably
calculated to meet the childrens needs. She also argues that
the court abused its discretion by refusing to continue the
termination hearing to allow a witness of hers to testify.
Because competent evidence supports the courts findings and
we conclude that the court acted within its discretion when
it declined to continue the hearing for testimony that was
cumulative and not likely to affect the judgment, we affirm.
The court made the following findings of fact, which have
ample support from competent evidence in the record:
The Jeopardy Order required [the mother] to participate in a
substance abuse evaluation to determine the appropriate level
of treatment, drug testing, mental health counseling, ... [a
diagnostic] evaluation, parenting education, and visitation
with the children. At the time ... [the mother] was
incarcerated, but was released two weeks later....[S]he was
free from jail only six days before she was arrested for a
probation violation for ... drug use.
... She has never fulfilled [a substance abuse evaluation] to
her detriment because the Department was not willing to fund
a[n] . . . inpatient placement without that evaluation. She
also did not complete the required [diagnostic] evaluation,
and has not been in any consistent mental health counseling.
To her credit, [the mother] did take some steps toward her
drug treatment while she was released. . . . [But then] she
was arrested again ... on a probation violation, testing
positive for cocaine, oxycontin, and benzodiazepines. . . .
Although the caseworker met her a few days after her release,
she was unaware that the mother had used again ... just
before entering [treatment].
This has been the cycle of the mother for many years....She
is, in her own words, a "chronic relapser." Despite
times when she was not using, this chronic relapsing is all
that her children have known. It has affected these children,
most noticeably [the son], who worries about her constantly.
[The sons]... significant mental health and behavioral needs
. . . resulted in juvenile justice involvement for an assault
on the mother. The children were present when she was
arrested [shortly after they entered the Departments
... The reality is that she is in the early phases of her
recovery and ... the process will take up to [twenty-four]
... [The children] have serious behavioral and mental health
needs. They have been in therapeutic foster placements and
need significant supports....The son has traumatic life
experiences and fears that would burden an adult; he is only
[twelve] years old.
[The daughter] is only four years old, but has been diagnosed
with [p]ost-traumatic ...