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In re Child of Christine M.

Supreme Court of Maine

October 4, 2018

IN RE CHILD OF CHRISTINE M.

          Submitted On Briefs: September 26, 2018

          Jennifer A. Davis, Esq., Law Office of Jennifer A. Davis, Topsham, for appellant Mother.

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, 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] Christine M. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (West Bath, Mathews, J.) terminating her parental rights to her child.[1] She argues that the record fails to support the court's findings that she is an unfit parent and that termination is in the best interest of the child. She also asserts that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] In March of 2017, just ten days after this child-the mother's fourth[2]-was born, the Department filed a child protection petition and a request for a preliminary protection order, alleging that the mother had a history of substance abuse and mental health issues, and that she failed to access adequate prenatal care. See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4032, 4034(1) (2017). The District Court [Dobson, J.) entered a preliminary protection order, placing the child in the Department's custody. See 22 M.R.S. § 4034(2) (2017). The mother waived her right to a summary preliminary hearing. See 22 M.R.S. §4034(3), (4) (2017).

         [¶3] In June of 2017, the District Court entered a jeopardy order with the mother's agreement, finding jeopardy to the child based on her history of substance abuse and mental illness, her failure to seek adequate prenatal care, and her past history with the Department. See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4035, 4036(1) (2017). In November of 2017, the Department filed a petition for termination of parental rights, alleging that the mother stopped attending her mental health counseling, failed to participate in drug testing, and stopped visiting with her child-requirements of the dispositional agreement in the jeopardy order. See 22 M.R.S. § 4052 (2017). After a testimonial hearing, the court [Mathews, J.), by order entered March 12, made the following findings of fact, which are supported by competent record evidence. See 22 M.R.S. § 4054 (2017).

1. [The mother] ceased all counseling in July of 2017 and thereafter failed to involve herself in any counseling for the issues identified in the Jeopardy Order.
2. [The mother] last visited [the child] on August 3, 2017. She has not seen this soon to be one-year old child for seven months.
3. [The mother] has missed all her drug screen tests since the Jeopardy Order was entered.
4. [The mother] has failed to engage with the Department in accomplishing any of the goals of reunification since the Jeopardy Order was entered.
5. [The mother] explains her lack of visitation and the failure to attend counseling as a failure of the Department to provide transportation. The Court does not find her ...

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