Submitted On Briefs: April 25, 2018
Seth Levy, Esq., Brunswick, 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, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Dani B. appeals from a judgment of the District Court
(Portland, Powers, J.) terminating her parental
rights to her two children. She argues that the record cannot
support the finding of parental unfitness. We affirm the
The Department filed a child protection petition with respect
to the younger child in November 2011 when that child was
nine months old. See 22 M.R.S. §4032 (2017).
The petition alleged that the mother, who was abusing
substances, left the child with a relative while evading
arrest on charges of burglary, theft, and criminal mischief.
In January 2012, the court [Goranites, J.) entered a
jeopardy order, with the parties' agreement, that granted
the Department custody of the child and placed the child with
his paternal grandmother. See 22 M.R.S. §§
4035(2), 4036(1)(F) (2017).
In March 2012, the mother's older child, who had been
residing with his father, came into the Department's
custody through a preliminary protection order entered by the
court [Mulhern J.) when his father left him with a
relative while the mother was incarcerated. See 22
M.R.S. § 4034(2) (2017). The court [Goranites,
J.) entered a jeopardy order with respect to that child,
upon the parties' agreement, in May 2012, granting the
Department custody and placing the child, then age six, with
his paternal grandmother. See id. §§
The Department provided, and the mother participated in,
multiple services, culminating in a trial placement of both
children with the mother beginning in late January 2013. The
placement was suspended for ten days in September 2013 and
then terminated in November 2013. The children entered foster
care, and the mother continued to pursue reunification.
The children were again placed in the mother's home in a
second trial placement that began in the summer of 2014 for
the older child and the early fall of 2014 for the younger
child. In February 2015, custody of the two children was
formally returned to the mother. All parties anticipated that
the case would be dismissed in April 2015, but the mother
admitted that she had used cocaine at the end of March, and
the matter remained open.
In February 2016, the Department petitioned for preliminary
protection orders for the children after a brick was thrown
through the window of their home, possibly by the
mother's recent boyfriend, a man who was involved with
drugs and had threatened to shoot at her home after she broke
up with him. The court [Powers, J.) signed
preliminary protection orders placing the children in the
custody of the Department.
The Department petitioned for termination of the mother's
parental rights as to both children in June 2016. The court
held a trial on that petition over the course of three days
between October 12 and 16, 2017. It then entered a judgment
granting the petition to terminate the parents' parental
rights after reaching extensive findings of fact by clear and
convincing evidence. 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2) (2017);
In re Thomas D., 2004 ME 104, ¶ 21, 854 A.2d
195. All of those facts are supported by competent evidence
in the record. See In re AM., 2012 ME 118, ¶
29, 55 A.3d 463.
Based on the facts that it found, the court reached the
following ultimate findings.
This is a tragic case regarding [the mother], who has made
some recent progress toward resolving her serious parenting
deficits. It is, however, a situation of too little progress,
too late in the process. She still cannot meet her