Submitted On Briefs: April 24, 2019
S. Bristol, Esq., Auburn, for appellant Mother
Department of Health and Human Services did not file a brief
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Melissa S. appeals from a judgment of the District Court
(Portland, Eggert, J.) terminating her parental
rights to her three children. The mother advances no argument
on appeal, and after reviewing the evidence in this case, we
affirm the court's judgment.
In November 2018, the court held a hearing on the Department
of Health and Human Services' petition to terminate the
mother's parental rights to her three children.
See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4052, 4054 (2018).
Following the hearing, the court issued a judgment
terminating the mother's parental rights after finding,
by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother is unable
to protect the children from jeopardy or take responsibility
for the children within a time reasonably calculated to meet
their needs, that the mother failed to make a good faith
effort at reunification, and that termination of the
mother's parental rights is in the children's best
interests. See 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a),
(b)(i), (ii), (iv) (2018).
The court based its determination on the following findings
of fact, all of which are supported by competent evidence in
Mother has signed releases for the Department and completed a
parenting education program, but has not successfully
completed any other elements of her plan. She has done some
of the random drug screens required, but failed to attend one
mandated after a September 2018 Family Team Meeting, and
presented a false sample at a July 26, 2018 screen. She also
failed the screens done on May 26, 2018. She has not
consistently visited with the children and has not seen them
since June 9, 2018. She has sporadically attended some
[counseling] with various counselors but has not been in a
consistent program, and she has had neither a substance abuse
nor a psychological evaluation. She has also not participated
in a program of individual therapy specifically to gain
insight into the effect of domestic violence on children. The
plan has been in effect for fifteen months at this point and
she [has] not at this time . . . lined up any of the
[counseling] services she still needs to complete. The
children have now been out of her care for twenty months and
the best she has been able to do during that time is to have
supervised visits with them, and at that, inconsistently,
with a total absence of contact for the past five months.
At the present time mother does not have any housing suitable
for the children. She reports that she is living at times
with her sister... and at times with a friend .... Neither
situation would be adequate for the children. She has not
reported any employment, nor did she explain in any detail
what she does with her time. When asked about what the
children need from her if she were to resume care of them,
she mentioned only participating in holidays, baking and
sharing cookies and cakes, getting to doctors and dentists,
and going to school. She did not articulate any other needs
of daily life for the care of a 10 year old, a 5 year old,
and an 18 month old. This comes after having completed a
parenting course .... She is clearly not ready to resume care
of these three children.
When [the middle child] came into [Department] custody he had
very limited vocabulary for a three year old, and speech
difficulties. He had not had appropriate medical care and
checkups while with his parents. Since being placed with
other family members he has had the benefit of occupational
therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, and has had
appropriate medical and dental care which is now up to date.
He has made great strides in improving his speech and motor
[The youngest child] was born drug affected and has had some
developmental delays. At present he is not yet verbal, but
has begun to take a few steps, and coming closer to meeting
other developmental milestones.
The mother timely appealed the court's judgment.
See 22 M.R.S. § 4006 (2018); M.R. App. P.
2B(c)(1). In January 2019, counsel for the mother filed an
appellate brief following the process we have laid out for
when counsel does not believe that there are any arguable
issues of merit on appeal in an appeal from an order
terminating parental rights. See In re Children of