In re Shaun B.

Connecticut Appellate Court

97 Conn. App. 203 (2006)

August 22, 2006

 

In a relatively straight forward termination of parental rights case, the appellate court affirmed the termination of a mother’s parental rights where the trial court found the failure to rehabilitate constituted the most significant barrier to reunification. The Department of Children and Families (“Department”) initially became involved in July 2002 when Shaun (then one year old) and his mother resided in a homeless shelter. The Department invoked a 96 hour hold and sought temporary custody due to the mother’s inability to care for the child, and her repeated eviction from homeless shelters due to “confrontational behavior.” The Department found that mom had left the child unattended, failed to fill prescriptions for the boy, and engaged in inappropriate discipline.

Things proceeded along without reunification – though mom visited the child on a regular basis. The key incident that inevitably resulted in termination, however, occurred in April 2003, when mom forcibly removed the child and threatened a social worker during one of her visits to the foster home. Mom then took the child to New York City for a period of two weeks, whereupon she finally turned herself in to the police. Not surprisingly, the Department filed its termination petition shortly thereafter.

The Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s findings on two issues. First, the overwhelming evidence supported the claim that the respondent (mom) had failed to rehabilitate herself pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §17a-112(j)(3)(B)(ii). The litany of failures included the inability to provide stable and adequate housing; failure to address mental health and anger management issues; non-cooperation with court-ordered evaluations; the unauthorized escape to New York City and the resulting felony charges that sprung from that episode; and her diagnosis of major depression and moderate and borderline personality disorder.

Second, the court found that the Department had proved by clear and convincing evidence that termination of mom’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-112(k). Once again – the court revisited the abduction incident, concluding that the resulting incarceration prevented “the respondent and child from visiting and preventing the respondent from making any meaningful efforts to make it in the best interest of the child to reunite with him.” This separation, combined with the warmth and stability achieved with the foster family, carried the day for the court.

This case is available on the Judicial Branch website by going towww.jud.state.ct.us/external/supapp/Cases/AROap/ap97/97AP425.pdf

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