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In re Child of Kimberly K.

Supreme Court of Maine

September 17, 2019


          Submitted On Briefs: September 10, 2019

          Jeffrey S. Dolley, Esq., Lewiston, for appellant mother

          Richard Charest, Esq., Lewiston, for appellant father

          Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General, and Zack Paakkonen, 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 HJELM, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] Kimberly K. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Lewiston, Martin, J.) terminating her parental rights to her child, as does the child's father. The father challenges the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the court's determination that he is unfit within the meaning of 22 M.R.S. §4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(i), (ii), (iv) (2018), and both parents contend that the court erred by determining that the termination of their parental rights is in the child's best interest, see 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a) (2018). We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts, which are supported by the evidence, are drawn from the court's judgment and the procedural record. See In re Children of Nicole M., 2018 ME 75, ¶ 2, 187 A.3d 1. On December 7, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a petition for a child protection order as to both parents, alleging that the mother had an untreated substance use disorder, was homeless, and was leaving the child alone for long periods of time with people who are not well-known to the child and are not considered by the Department to be safe caregivers. See 22 M.R.S. § 4032 (2018). The petition further alleged that the father was unable to care for the child because he was incarcerated.

         [¶3] On April 11, 2017, the court entered an agreed-to jeopardy order, granting custody to the Department and maintaining the child's placement with his paternal grandmother. See 22 M.R.S. §4035 (2018). The court entered agreed-to judicial review and permanency planning orders on August 17, 2017 [Beliveau, J.); January 11, 2018 [Dow, J.); April 12, 2018 [Beliveau, J.); August 16, 2018 [Ham-Thompson, J.); and December 13, 2018 [Dow, /.), maintaining custody of the child with the Department.

         [¶4] Meanwhile, in October 2018, the Department filed a petition for the termination of both parents' rights to their child. See 22 M.R.S. § 4052 (2018). Following a hearing held on the petition, see 22 M.R.S. § 4054 (2018), the court entered a judgment granting the petition to terminate the parents' rights. The court based its decision on the following findings of fact, all of which are supported by competent evidence in the record. See In re Child of Domenick B., 2018 ME 158, ¶ 5, 197 A.3d 1076.

[The mother's] drug use is longstanding and significant. Her drug[s] of choice [have] been cocaine and suboxone. She has lived with her ex-boyfriend's mother for the last year. Her drug abuse has landed her in jail on several occasions and she is now facing her third probation violation, which could result in a maximum 18-month jail sentence
The Jeopardy Order dated April 7, 2017, required [the mother] to participate actively and consistently in substance abuse treatment with a mental health component; participate in a follow-up interview with Family Treatment Drug Court (FTDC); to not use or possess alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs except when used as prescribed by a qualified health professional; subject to random drug and alcohol testing; participate in a parenting education program; be involved in [the child's] appointments; sign all necessary releases; maintain safe and stable housing free from domestic violence, drugs and alcohol; and refrain from any/all criminal involvements and abide by the terms of probation conditions. Over the last 24 months, [the mother] has failed to do any of the above required conditions. During this case she had promised to enroll in FTDC but failed to do so. FTDC case manager and DHHS caseworkers have reached out to her many times to enroll in FTDC; although she acknowledges her need, she has failed to enroll. While she did complete an intensive outpatient program (IOP) a few years ago, the evidence presented reveals that she has never engaged in services throughout this case and is currently not in any services. Her visits with [the child] have been intermittent at best. For that reason, the visits were canceled
[The mother] admits not being in a position to parent [the child] at this time and suggests she would need additional time to complete her sentence, obtain housing, get into the FTDC and substance abuse counseling, attend another IOP and gain ...

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