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In re Child of Danielle F.

Supreme Court of Maine

May 7, 2019

IN RE CHILD OF DANIELLE F.

          Submitted On Briefs: April 24, 2019

          Andrea S. Manthorne, Esq., Roach, Hewitt, Ruprecht, Sanchez & Bischoff, Portland, for appellant mother

          Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General, and Hunter C. Umphrey, 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, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] Danielle F. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Portland, Powers, /.) terminating her parental rights to her child.[1] 22 M.R.S. §4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2018). She contends that (1) her due process rights were violated when the court commenced the termination hearing, as scheduled, in her absence, and (2) the court abused its discretion by terminating her parental rights rather than imposing a permanency guardianship. We affirm the judgment.

         [¶2] Based on clear and convincing evidence in the record, the court found that the mother is (1) unable to protect the child from jeopardy within a time which is reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs, and (2) unable to take responsibility for the child. See id. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii). The court also found that termination of the mother's parental rights is in the child's best interest. See id. § 4055(1) (B)(2) (a) (2018).

         [¶3] The court based its decision on the following findings of fact, all of which are supported by competent record evidence.

This is a tragic situation involving a very young mother who experienced substance abuse, domestic violence, housing, and mental health problems which overwhelm her and seriously affect her ability to parent [the young child]. [The mother] unfortunately at times refused services that she needed and did not understand or acknowledge the parenting deficits she has had that negatively affected her son. Furthermore, she lied repeatably about her ongoing contact with [the child's father], who also had serious parent[ing] issues, when no contact was permitted. This had a detrimental effect on her as well as this child. [The mother's] insistence on seeing [the child's father] resulted from poor decision making on her part, recognizing that she is young and had numerous life stresses. Her credibility with the court is limited, though she appeared more straightforward at the hearing.
[The mother] continues her regular use of marijuana, has been to drug counseling off and on, has used other drugs in recent months, has violated group home rules enough to lose her housing, and has continued to see a man who was violent with her in [the child's] presence or otherwise.
She has had just over two years to reunify and accept necessary services. Her child's trial placement did not end well. Her efforts to reunify can be described as "poor" to "fair." [The mother's] life itself has been stressful and chaotic with many unresolved parenting issues remaining. Her love of this child is not sufficient to remedy her deficits.
All the above supports that she is, by clear and convincing evidence, unable to meet this child's needs and protect him from the longstanding jeopardy within any reasonable time to meet his needs as a 2xh year old boy
This child has been in custody for all but a few months of his life.[2] [He] needs stability, consistency, and permanency. He cannot benefit from more uncertainty related to this case and his mother's inability to be a safe and proper parent. His best chance for success requires termination of this parent's rights, followed by adoption.
[The child] has had several placements in the last two years, and many transitions and disruptions are not good for a still developing and needy toddler. His current home is meeting his basic needs and has [done so] for several months in total. This home is pre-adoptive and may result in permanency in ...

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