IN RE AURORA M. et al.
Submitted On Briefs: January 11, 2018
District Court docket number PC-2016-01
Douglas F. Jennings, Esq., Walker & Jennings, PA,
Hallowell, and the father personally, 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
ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
The father of Aurora M. and Juelz M. appeals from a judgment
of the District Court (Augusta, E. Walker, J.)
terminating his parental rights to the children pursuant to
22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(iv)
(2017). He contends that the guardian ad litem
failed to satisfy his statutory obligations to conduct an
in-person interview with the father and to notify the
father's attorney that the father was incarcerated before
the cease reunification order went into effect. See 4
M.R.S. § 1554 (2017); 22 M.R.S. § 4005(1) (2017). We
disagree and affirm the judgment.
The court found by clear and convincing evidence the
following facts, which are supported by competent evidence in
the record. See In re Hannah S., 2016 ME 32, ¶
3, 133 A.3d 590.
The father was the primary caregiver of the children before
the Department took custody of the children in January 2016.
He has a lengthy history of illegal drug use. When the
children were in his care, he injected heroin at least four
times a day and spent money on drugs instead of on basic
necessities for the children. The Department offered to
provide the father with a substance abuse evaluation and
counseling, but he refused to participate, stating that he
needed more serious in-patient treatment. He also blames his
inability to pay even minimal fees and his lack of
transportation for his inability to attend counseling.
The father has a lengthy criminal history and is currently in
a maximum-security facility after assaulting another inmate
with a padlock while in a minimum-security facility. He is
expected to be released sometime during the summer of 2018.
The father has a history of domestic violence against the
children's mother, with many of the incidents being
witnessed by both children. This has caused significant
psychological damage to the children, who openly fear him;
Aurora suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder as
a result of witnessing the violence. The father shows no
understanding of the serious damage his abuse and neglect
have caused his children and has no realistic plan for caring
for them in the future.
The father has done almost nothing to reunify with his two
children. He has had minimal contact with his attorney, his
probation officer, the Department, and the court since the
children were removed and has never inquired about visitation
or even how the children are doing. The father has failed to
appear for court, and he has failed to notify the Department
of his whereabouts and to notify his probation officer of
address changes. The court stated that it "understands
that recovery is not a sprint, but is, instead, a marathon.
The problem is that Father still hasn't even approached
the starting line in this race." The children need a
permanent home now and cannot wait for the father to get his
life in order.
"We review the court's factual findings for clear
error, evaluated pursuant to the clear and convincing
evidence standard of proof." In re Hannah ...