Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2017
M. Corbett, Esq., Law Office of Dawn M. Corbett, PA,
Ellsworth, for appellant mother
Kellett Gray, Esq., Brooklin, for appellant father
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, 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 parents of Dominyk T. appeal from a judgment of the
District Court (Ellsworth, Roberts, J.) terminating
their parental rights to the child. The mother argues, and
the father joins in her argument, that the Department of
Health and Human Services failed to satisfy its obligation to
provide necessary services to the mother and that the record
cannot support the finding of parental unfitness or the
determination that the termination of her parental rights is
in Dominyks best interest. The father also contends that,
although he is unable to care for the child, the mother and
he should both retain their parental rights. We affirm the
When the Department petitioned for a child protection order
in February 2015, the child had already been residing apart
from both parents with family members as part of an agreed
upon safety plan. The child has a genetic disorder that
causes rapid growth in the first years of life and can result
in physical and behavioral challenges. The Department alleged
in its petition that the father was unable to maintain
sobriety and that the mother could not maintain a stable home
and safely care for the child.
Upon the parties agreement, the court found in March 2015
that the child was in jeopardy with the mother due to the
involuntary termination of her parental rights to two other
children in 2005, her inability to keep Dominyk safe or meet
his medical needs, her inability to maintain appropriate
housing, and her repeated choice of unsafe partners.
See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4002(6), 4035(2) (2016).
The father conceded that, due to his struggles with alcohol
abuse, he was unable to care for Dominyk.
The Department first filed a petition to terminate the
parents parental rights in February 2016. The court held a
trial on that petition in November and December 2016 and was
not persuaded that the Department had established the mothers
unfitness. On that basis, the court denied the petition, and
the Department then transitioned the child into the mothers
After the Department received new evidence of injuries to
Dominyk, it filed another petition to terminate the parents
parental rights on April 11, 2017. The court held a trial on
that petition and on July 11, 2017, entered a judgment
granting the petition to terminate the parents parental
rights after finding, by clear and convincing evidence, the
following facts, all of which are supported by competent
evidence in the record. See 22 M.R.S. §
4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (B)(2) (2016); In re A.M., 2012 ME
118, ¶ 29, 55 A.3d 463.
[The mother] is very willing to take responsibility for
Dominyk and to protect him from jeopardy. She is simply
unable to care for him consistently. [The mother] worked
extremely hard to alleviate the issues that brought him into
care. She engaged in counseling ... for close to 2 years.
[The counselor] remains supportive of [the mother] indicating
that she is a competent parent committed to her child and
able to set appropriate limits for him. At hearing, [the
mother] articulated the parenting knowledge that she has
acquired. She can describe Dominyks needs and the parenting
skills that she would utilize to deal with him. [Her]
parenting progress is contradicted by the observations of the
in-home care providers. She cannot consistently apply the
parenting skills that she has acquired.
Dominyk was transitioned into [the mothers] care on December
30, 2016, following the courts denial of the Departments
first termination petition. [The mother] received HCT [home
and community treatment] services . . . following Dominyks
placement in her home. [The HCT worker] noted that Dominyk
exhibited heightened aggression following his return. She
observed that [the mother] has a low stress threshold while
Dominyk is quick to agitate. This resulted in clashes between
the two. [The mother] would become agitated with Dominyk, he
would respond with aggression and the HCT worker would
intervene to calm the situation. Unfortunately, [the mother]
admitted that she couldnt maintain the calm environment. [The
mother]s partner confirmed that he and [the mother] were
becoming irritable before March 30th. They werent calm.
Dominyk was hard to handle. [The mothers fiancé] felt
that they really needed time away from Dominyk.
[The HCT worker] and . . . Dominyks school nurse noted that
[physiological hygiene issues were] a significant concern
during his placement with [the mother]. . . . [The HCT
worker] addressed her concerns with [the mother]. [The
mother] could acknowledge the issue and seek guidance from
[the HCT ...