804 N.E.2d 258 (Ind.App. 2004), 49A02-0306-JV-461, In re Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of D.D.

Docket Nº:49A02-0306-JV-461.
Citation:804 N.E.2d 258
Party Name:In the Matter of the TERMINATION OF the PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP OF D.D. Anna Peterson, Mother, Appellant-Respondent, v. Marion County Office of Family and Children, Appellee-Petitioner, and Child Advocates, Inc., Appellee/Guardian Ad Litem.
Case Date:March 04, 2004
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana
 
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804 N.E.2d 258 (Ind.App. 2004)

In the Matter of the TERMINATION OF the PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP OF D.D.

Anna Peterson, Mother, Appellant-Respondent,

v.

Marion County Office of Family and Children, Appellee-Petitioner,

and

Child Advocates, Inc., Appellee/Guardian Ad Litem.

No. 49A02-0306-JV-461.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 4, 2004.

        Transfer Denied July 28, 2004.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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        Jan B. Berg, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

        Elizabeth G. Filipow, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellee.

        OPINION

        SHARPNACK, Judge.

        Anna Peterson ("Mother") appeals the trial court's termination of her parental rights to her minor son, D.D. Mother raises five issues, which we consolidate and restate as whether the trial court's order terminating Mother's parental rights to D.D. is clearly erroneous. We affirm.

        The relevant facts follow. Mother and Keith Doverspike lived together with their two children, G.D. and A.D., and Mother's son from a prior relationship, D.D., who was born in 1993 (collectively, the "Children").1 In October 2000, the trial court granted a petition filed by the Marion County Office of Family and Children ("MCOFC"), which alleged that D.D., G.D., and A.D. were children in need of services ("CHINS"). The petition alleged that D.D. had been physically abused by Doverspike and that Mother had failed to protect the Children and had exposed them to an endangering environment. As a result, the Children were removed from the home.

        Doverspike filed a protective order, and Mother was ordered to leave the home in December 2000. Subsequently, the Children were returned to Doverspike for an in-home trial visitation. Due to concerns regarding Mother's mental health and substance abuse, the Children were not returned to Mother. The CHINS proceeding was later closed as to G.D. and A.D. However, the CHINS proceeding regarding D.D. continued, and Mother was offered a variety of services.

        In August 2001, the MCOFC filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights to D.D. The trial court heard evidence on the petition on August 5, 2002, November 20, 2002, February 7, 2003, and March 26, 2003. The trial court then found the following:

        7. [D.D.] was initially removed from the care of [Mother] due to allegations of physical abuse by the step-father, Keith Doverspike, and [Mother's] inability to protect [D.D.]. The reasons for the continued placement of [D.D.] outside of the care and custody of [Mother] include her misuse of prescription drugs, her mental illness diagnoses and attendant erratic behavior, her failure to follow through with mental health treatment, and her inability to provide a safe consistence nurturing residence and environment for [D.D.], all of which endangers him.

        8. Since removal from [Mother], [D.D.] has not been returned to her care and custody.

        9. [Mother] has been diagnosed with a number of mental health problems, including borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety.

        10. [Mother] has a history of substance abuse, including abuse of prescription drugs, marijuana and alcohol. Because of her history of substance abuse and her self-reported treatment history of two prior referrals for substance abuse treatment, it was recommended by substance abuse professionals at Winona Hospital that [Mother] attend either an Intensive Outpatient Program or

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an Inpatient Program to deal with issues of substance abuse. However, since initiation of the CHINS case she has attended neither. Substance abuse represents a safety issue to [Mother] in that it can interfere with her compliance with medications prescribed for her mental health issues.

        11. The following services have been offered and available to [Mother] since initiation of the CHINS action with regard to her children: a Parenting Assessment, Project Safe Families for domestic violence issues, substance abuse evaluation and treatment through Midwest Psychological Center and Winona Hospital, psychiatric evaluations through Psychological Laboratories and Adult and Child, home-based counseling through Midwest Psychological Center, supervised visitation, housing through various shelters and transitional housing facilities, psychiatric care and medications through Gallahue Community Health and Behavioral Care South, urine drug screens through Valle Vista Hospital, and financial help and counseling through the ACES Project.

        12. Home-based counseling services were provided to [Mother] through Midwest Psychological Center. The treatment goals for [Mother] were to help her address her mental health issues, help her maintain her medications and to maintain visits between [Mother] and [D.D.]. [Mother] was being seen by a psychiatrist at Behavioral Care South during this time. The home-based counselor also set up another appointment with a psychiatrist at Midwest Psychological Center. The home-based counselor encouraged [Mother] to take her medications and to attend appointments with her psychiatrist.

        13. The home-based counselor made referrals for housing, including apartments and shelters. During the time she received home-based counseling at Midwest, [Mother] did not have stable housing or employment. [Mother] admitted to the home-based counselor that she sometimes took her prescription medications and sometimes took over the counter diet pills, and that she smoked marijuana. The home-based counselor warned her that not only was it dangerous to mix marijuana with her prescription medications, but that use of it would violate a shelter's rules, such that she might be asked to leave. [Mother] also threatened the MCOFC Case Manager in the presence of the home-based counselor. She also made comments that she might have to take [D.D.] away and directed a threat at [Doverspike], indicating that she had a weapon and might use it.

        14. The home-based counselor closed her case as to [Mother] and referred her to the Action Coalition to Ensure Stability ("ACES"), an agency that could help her with more intensive services directed at persons with mental health issues. At the time she closed her case, significant concerns existed regarding [Mother's] ability to safely provide for [D.D.], due to her lack of consistency in taking her medications, her lack of stable residence and employment, and the violent outbursts, suicide attempts and emotional instability demonstrated by [Mother].

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        15. Susan Gerber of ACES has provided services to [Mother] since early in 2001. In order to be admitted to the ACES program, a client must have mental health issues, a substance use or abuse disorder, and be homeless or at risk for becoming homeless. [Mother] met the criteria for the program. ACES is designed to provide a link to necessary services for its clients.

        16. Susan Gerber and [Mother] developed a Resource Coordination Plan, which identified the following treatment goals: working on [Mother's] "hidden" issues, establishing and maintaining suitable housing, and remaining free of mind and mood-altering substances, such as opiates and alcohol. Another goal was mental health stability.

        17. When she began working with ACES, [Mother] was receiving her psychiatric care through Behavior Care South and Midwest Psychological Services. Susan Gerber was aware of [Mother's] psychiatric diagnoses, and had training and experience in recognizing the symptoms of these.

        18. Susan Gerber told [Mother] that compliance with her prescribed medications was very important to obtaining and maintaining mental health stability and encouraged her on numerous occasions to take her medications as prescribed. However, [Mother] reported a pattern of mixed compliance and non-compliance with her prescribed medications. Ms. Gerber counseled her that she was likely to experience symptom exacerbations if she did not take her medications.

        19. The symptoms of [Mother's] mental illness included extreme sadness, boundary issues, intense, hostile and dependent relationships with person, isolation from others, distrust of persons who might help her, a cycle of unrealistic valuing and devaluing of people, manipulations of others and screaming outbursts. Her symptoms are exacerbated when she is not medically compliant.

        20. [Mother's] symptoms interfere with her day to day functioning. She has had a hard time maintaining employment and suitable residences.

        21. Becoming depressed and isolated, failing to maintain healthy relationships, failing to trust people, and failing to utilize available supports and medications, to the extent demonstrated by [Mother], interferes with appropriate parenting of a child and poses a significant risk to the child's healthy emotional development.

        22. [Mother] has also in the past been involved in a physically abusive relationship with a boyfriend, which would put a child placed with her at risk.

        23. Ms. Gerber provided advocacy and encouragement to [Mother] to help with finding and maintaining appropriate housing. ACES has also been available to provide financial assistance with housing. Despite this assistance, since involvement with ACES, [Mother] has resided in two shelters for brief periods of time, leaving due to conflicts with the facilities and their rules, lived in Transitional Housing at Safe Haven for a brief period of time, lived in a motel room that would not be appropriate for a child due to drug trafficking at the facility, and lived

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temporarily with various friends. [Mother] then obtained housing at the Blue Triangle, a facility where she has a room but shares a kitchen and bathroom, and which does not allow children. ACES has...

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