C.R. v. Ind. Dep't of Child Servs. (In re L.G.), 22A-JT-711

Citation22A-JT-711
Case DateSeptember 21, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of L.G. (Minor Child);

C.R. (Mother) and D.G. (Father), Appellants-Respondents,
v.

Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner.

No. 22A-JT-711

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 21, 2022


Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the Huntington Circuit Court The Honorable Amy C. Richison, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 35D01-2107-JT-13

Attorney for Appellant-Mother

Justin R. Wall

Wall Legal Services

Huntington, Indiana

Attorney for Appellant-Father

Mark J. Wiley

Bowers, Brewer, Garrett & Wiley, LLP

Huntington, Indiana

Attorneys for Appellee

Theodore E. Rokita

Attorney General of Indiana

Robert J. Henke

Supervising Deputy Attorney General

Indianapolis, Indiana

MEMORANDUM DECISION

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TAVITAS, JUDGE.

Case Summary

[¶1] C.R. ("Mother") and D.G. ("Father") (collectively "Parents") appeal the termination of their parental rights with respect to L.G. ("Child"). Child was declared a child in need of services ("CHINS") on the basis of Parents' drug use and incarceration. The trial court ordered services with which Parents only sporadically complied, and the trial court terminated Parents' parental rights to the Child. Because the trial court's conclusions are not clearly erroneous, we affirm.

Issues

[¶2] Parents raise a single issue: whether the trial court clearly erred in terminating their parental rights.

Facts

[¶3] Child was born October 11, 2015. In March of 2019, the Department of Child Services ("DCS") filed a CHINS petition alleging that Parents were arrested for neglect of a dependent and were abusing drugs. Police were called to the home after a report of someone overdosing on drugs and discovered drugs and

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paraphernalia in the home. Mother and Father both admitted to consistent abuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine and opiates. Parents were both incarcerated at the time of the initial hearing. On May 24, 2019, Parents admitted that Child was a CHINS.

[¶4] That same day, the trial court held a dispositional hearing and ordered Parents to do the following: (1) maintain open communication with the family case manager ("FCM"); (2) enroll in any programs or services recommended by the FCM or any other service provider; (3) maintain housing suitable for the safe care of a child; (4) maintain a stable source of income; (5) not consume any illegal drugs; (6) obey the law; (7) complete a parenting assessment and comply with all resulting recommendations; (8) complete psychological evaluations; (9) submit to random drug screens; and (10) participate in supervised visitation.

[¶5] Parents, however, made little progress, were repeatedly incarcerated, and continued abusing illegal substances. DCS filed a petition to terminate their parental rights on June 21, 2021. At the time of the October 1, 2021 fact-finding hearing, Father was incarcerated after committing battery against Mother. A therapist from Bowen Center, who treated Mother beginning in 2019, testified that her primary concern for Mother was: "Just maintaining long-term sobriety and stability, you know, establishing that stable environment of recovery, not just for herself but for her child." Tr. Vol. II p. 104. The therapist further testified that Mother's compliance with services was sporadic, that Mother had made no efforts to secure stable housing, and that Mother appeared uninterested in securing a consistent and reliable mode of

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transportation.[1] Mother's sporadic engagement with services was partly attributable to her being incarcerated.

[¶6] A behavioral health service provider testified that Father's attendance with intensive outpatient treatment sessions was inconsistent-sometimes because Father was incarcerated-and that the primary focus of the sessions was Father's consistent substance abuse. She testified that Father would claim not to be using drugs in the therapy sessions, but his drug screens would be positive.

[¶7] A skills coach testified to an incident during supervised visitation in which both Parents became confrontational and yelled at Child. The visit occurred at the library, and Parents were cautioned by the library staff for being too loud and disruptive. The skills coach had to terminate the visit and suspend visitation due to "physical intimidation." Tr. Vol. II p. 148. Finally, the skills coach testified that she would have significant concerns about Mother's ability to maintain a safe and suitable environment for Child due to use of illegal substances and an absence of stable housing and reliable transportation.

[¶8] The FCM testified regarding multiple periods of time during which Mother completely stopped engaging with services, which culminated in the termination of services in November 2021. The FCM further testified that, from 2019 until the date of the hearing, Father only attended nine individual

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sessions with his therapist. During visitations, Father would be on his phone, rather than engaging with the Child. The majority of Parents' drug screens were positive, and Parents did not consistently submit to drug screens. According to the FCM, Parents' case had been in a "downward spiral since October of 2020." Tr. Vol. II p. 168.

[¶9] With respect to Child, the FCM testified that Child had been in foster care for thirty-eight months as of the date of the termination hearing and that Child is happy, talkative, and bonded with her foster parents. The FCM recommended that Parents' parental rights be terminated and opined that such termination was in the best interest of the Child. Finally, the FCM explained that the plan for Child is adoption by foster parents who have provided a safe and nurturing environment.

[¶10] On March 17, 2022, the trial court terminated the parental rights of both Mother and Father. The trial court made the following pertinent findings:

2. Parents are unwilling or unable to meet their parental responsibilities. Neither parent is fit to care for the child.
3. These deficiencies on the part of the Father and Mother, summarized as their continued substance abuse, incarcerations, failure to participate or benefit from reunification services, and ongoing inability to provide for the Child's basic needs, as demonstrated by the prior recitation of facts, both individually and cumulatively, found in this Order, all clearly and convincingly demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that the conditions that resulted in the child's removal or reasons
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for placement outside the home will not be remedied by Mother or Father.
4. These same deficiencies also demonstrate that the continuation of the parent-child relationship poses a threat to the well-being of the Child.
5. DCS's plan for Child is that she be adopted. This plan is satisfactory for the Child's care and treatment and an adoptive family has been identified.
* * * * *
8. Termination is in the best interests of the child.

Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 41. Parents now appeal.

Discussion and Decision

[¶11] Parents contend that the trial court...

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