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In re Child of Corey B.

Supreme Court of Maine

January 7, 2020

IN RE CHILD OF COREY B.

          Submitted On Briefs: December 17, 2019

          Julian Richter, Esq., Richter Law, LLC, Gardiner, for appellant father

          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, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM

         [¶1] Corey B. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Waterville, Montgomery, J.) terminating his parental rights to his child. The father challenges the court's findings that he was unable to take responsibility for the child within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs, see 22 M.R.S.§ 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(i), (ii) (2018), and that termination of his parental rights is in the child's best interest, see id. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a) (2018). In addition, he alleges that the court violated his constitutional rights. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] On July 6, 2017, when the child was two years old, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a petition for a child protection order. See id. § 4032 (2018). The mother agreed to a finding of jeopardy (Stanfill, J.) on October 25, 2017, and the father agreed to a finding of jeopardy on January 30, 2018. See id. § 4035 (2018). On November 8, 2018, the Department filed a petition to terminate the mother's[1] and father's parental rights. See id. § 4052 (2018). After a two-day hearing on March 29, 2019, and May 9, 2019, see id. § 4054 (2018), the court (Montgomery, J.) entered a judgment terminating the father's parental rights to the child.

         [¶3] The court made the following findings of fact, which are supported by competent record evidence. See In re Child of Kimberly K., 2019 ME 145, ¶ 4, 2l7A, 3d63.

[The child] was born drug-affected .... At that time, [the father] was incarcerated. He was released from prison on March 8, 2017 [, ] with three years' probation. Shortly thereafter, [the mother] was arrested for Domestic Violence Assault, and she faced a full probation revocation. [She] placed [the child] with her mother At some point thereafter, [the child] began staying with [the father] at [the father's] mother's home.
By mid-June 2017, [the mother and father] indicated their intent to reconcile and live together in an apartment [the mother] had secured. DHHS asked the couple to participate in random drug screening, but both parents failed to go. On June 29, 2017, [the mother] overdosed on heroin. [The child] was with her at that time. In fact, [the father] was also initially present at [the mother's] residence, but he left her residence because [she] was using. Despite knowing that she was using drugs, [the father] left [the child] there with [the mother] ....
...[The father] was taken by police to the hospital in early September 2017 for a possible overdose. [The father] admitted to using heroin at that time. In early November, [the father's probation officer] reported that [the father] was living with several other people in an apartment where there were mattresses lined up on the floor. The Department was unable to make any contact with [the father] throughout November and December 2017. In mid-December 2017, [the father's] requested paternity test result showed him to be [the child's] father.
[The child] entered foster care [in October 2017]. He was placed with ... his maternal grandmother. By April 3, 2018, DHHS reported that [the child] had achieved stability and had begun to show more age-appropriate behaviors. He was enrolled in child care where he received socialization, structure and exercise.
On January 30, 2018, [the child's father] agreed to Jeopardy, and he began to make efforts toward reunification with [the child]. As part of the reunification plan, he agreed to participate in services to address his mental health issues and significant substance abuse. [The father] also completed drug screens through probation, consistently testing positive for marijuana use (for which he had a card) and for Suboxone, for which he did not have a prescription. He did not, however, participate in the recommended random drug screens through DHHS.
[The father] agreed to participate in the MEPP [Maine Enhanced Parenting Project] program, but his consistent marijuana use was a potential obstacle in ...

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