In re GS

Conn. App.

October 27, 2009

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS/FAILURE TO REHABILITATE/SPECIFIC STEPS/MOTION FOR ARTICULATION

As the appellate court notes in its written decision, this termination of parental rights case “underscores the sad distinction between willingness and ability to parent a child.” Baby GS, having been exposed to multiple drugs while in-utero, was removed from his mother when he was only days old. By all accounts, the respondent mother cooperated with every service provided for her in an effort to address substance abuse issues and parenting skill deficiencies. She maintained sobriety and complied with numerous parenting services. Unfortunately, not only did the respondent mother continue to express unease about the prospect of becoming a full time parent, multiple service providers, including the family reunification specialist, testified at trial that despite sustained provision of support services, respondent mother still did not demonstrate an ability to retain lessons taught or to parent her baby safely. The appellate court noted that the question was not whether a parent has complied with the specific steps, but whether the parent has benefited from that compliance. Though the appellate court acknowledged DCF’s concession that respondent mother “displayed a complete willingness to engage in and accomplish all that [DCF felt] necessary to successfully parent [her baby],” it reiterated the long standing principle that whether a parent has adequately “rehabilitated” turns on the parent’s ability to parent their child safely and consistently. Finally, the court rejected respondent’s argument that the trial court failed to make its reasonable efforts findings by the “clear and convincing standard.” The appellate court held that the memorandum, taken as a whole, supported the conclusion that the court applied the appropriate standard of proof in making its decision. Moreover, the appellate court pointed out that should there be a question as to whether the proper standard of proof has been applied, it is incumbent upon the challenging party to clarify the issue through a motion for articulation.

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