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Adoption of Ivan M.

Supreme Court of Maine

February 12, 2019

ADOPTION OF IVAN M.

          Submitted On Briefs: January 17, 2019

          Natasha C. Irving, Esq., Waldoboro, for appellant father

          Christina B. Perkins, Esq., Ellsworth, for appellant mother

          Joseph W. Baiungo, Esq., Belfast, for appellees maternal grandparents

          Panel: ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] The father and mother of I.M. appeal from a judgment entered by the Waldo County Probate Court (Longley, J.) terminating their parental rights in anticipation of an adoption pursuant to 18-A M.R.S. § 9-204(a)-(b) (2017)[1] and 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(2), (B)(2)(a), and (B)(2)(b)(ii) (2017). Both parents contend that there was insufficient evidence to support the Probate Courts findings that they are parentally unfit and that termination of their parental rights is in the best interest of the child. Additionally, the father asserts that the Probate Court abused its discretion by failing to clearly rule on an objection raised during the hearing on the petition for termination of parental rights. Discerning no error or abuse of discretion, we affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The present appeal arises from petitions to terminate the mothers and fathers parental rights and a petition for adoption brought by the maternal grandparents of the child in the Waldo County Probate Court. The maternal grandparents, who are the childs limited co-guardians, sought to terminate the parental rights of the childs mother and father in order to adopt the child. A two-day hearing was held on the maternal grandparents petitions on May 8 and 21, 2017. The following facts derive from the Probate Courts judgment terminating the mother and fathers parental rights, and are supported by competent record evidence admitted over the course of a two-day hearing.

         [¶3] In its order terminating parental rights, the Probate Court made the following factual findings of parental unfitness with regard to the father:

In addition to repeated domestic violence aimed at the mother, [the father] has had a long and ongoing history with anger issues and emotional instability.... Though he occasionally can present as ... calm and polite, he has often shown himself to be very easily provoked into a rage, rant and/or violence.
. . . Starting 2 years ago, he has ignored his child and his visitation opportunities with [the child]. Instead, [the father] has made excuses. Regardless of repeated and ongoing visit opportunities, what visits he has sought, he often has left early or remained in the car outside the childs home. He also has canceled multiple visits. He has added that this child "can overwhelm" him, that the [maternal grandparents] "control" has him feeling "attacked" by the [maternal grandparents], adding "I dont like to be around them." And he was not able to remember the last time he was with his child. In short, [the father] has had a visitation routine with his child . . . that has gone from the infrequent and sporadic to the non-existent.
Now living in the home of a friend, he has decided to ignore his childs life-long home and attachments along with [the childs] special needs and have [the child] in his own care. Specifically, [the father] has stated, "if I had this child, I would not let the guardians in [the childs] life."
In short, [the father] . . . has continued to lack the ability or willingness to take responsibility for this child in a time-frame reasonably calculated to meet this . . . childs ...

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