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In re Child of Shannon S.

Supreme Court of Maine

June 11, 2019

IN RE CHILD OF SHANNON S.

          Submitted On Briefs: May 30, 2019

          Rory A. McNamara, Esq., Drake Law, LLC, Berwick, 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, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] Shannon S. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Lewiston, Ham-Thompson, J.) terminating her parental rights to her child. 22 M.R.S. §4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2018). The mother challenges the court's determination that termination of her parental rights is in the best interest of her child. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] On November 9, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a child protection petition. See 22 M.R.S. § 4032 (2018). The petition alleged that the mother struggled with substance abuse and exposed the child to domestic violence between the parents in the home.[1] On February 5, 2016, the court [Dow, J.) entered a jeopardy order, with the parents' agreement, see 22 M.R.S. §4035(1)-(2) (2018); however, custody remained with the mother until May 22, 2017, when the court (Oram, J.) granted the Department custody of the child after the mother was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs. The child was placed with a relative.[2]

         [¶3] The Department petitioned for termination of the mother's parental rights on May 18, 2018. See 22 M.R.S. §4052 (2018). The court [Ham-Thompson, J.) held a three-day hearing on the petition and, on November 19, 2018, found by clear and convincing evidence that the mother is unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child within a time that is reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs, and that termination of the mother's rights is in the best interest of the child. See 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii).

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

[The mother] has a significant history of substance abuse. By her own admissions, she has had multiple relapses during the pendency of this case. [The mother] has participated in two residential treatment programs, multiple [Intensive Outpatient Programs], and individual counseling. Despite these services, [the mother] has and continues to actively abuse substances. [The mother] also has significant mental health issues and has been inconsistent in attending mental health treatment. During her testimony, [the mother] indicated that she did not see a correlation between her mental health issues and the impact on her child.
... [The mother] has failed to do the things required in order to eliminate jeopardy. She has failed to refrain from using illicit substances, failed to adequately address her substance abuse history, failed to address her mental health issues, failed to provide a safe and stable home environment for her [child], and failed to demonstrate that she can be an emotionally stable parent to her [child].

         The court found further that the mother's "substance abuse has resulted in her having a fairly extensive criminal history from 2004 to present" including "multiple OUIs, thefts by unauthorized taking, illegal possessions of controlled ...


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