Eden F., In re

Decision Date07 April 1998
Docket NumberNo. 16417,16417
Citation48 Conn.App. 290,710 A.2d 771
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesIn re EDEN F. et al. *

Roger E. Bunker, Bloomfield, for appellant (respondent mother).

Linda Pearce Prestley, Assistant Attorney General, with whom, on the brief, were Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General, and Ann-Marie DeGraffenreidt, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee (petitioner).

David T. Stone, Vernon, for the minor children.


HEALEY, Judge.

This is an appeal from the decision of the trial court granting petitions to terminate a mother's parental rights in her two children, Eden and Joann. The department of children and families (department) filed both petitions for termination on the ground that the mother, Ann F., had "failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable time, considering the age[s] and needs of the child[ren], [she] could assume a responsible position in the li[ves] of the child[ren]" as required by General Statutes (Rev. to 1995) § 17a-112 (b), now § 17a-112 (c). 1

The following facts are relevant to this appeal. Ann F. was born in Hartford on February 27, 1959. The department of children and youth services (DCYS) 2 removed her from her biological parents at the age of three months. She was removed from her home because her mother had been admitted to an inpatient psychiatric care facility. DCYS attempted for six years to reunify her with her mother. When DCYS did reunify them, Ann F. was six years old and spoke only English while her mother spoke Spanish. The reunification failed and Ann F. spent the majority of her childhood in a foster home. In 1975, at the age of fifteen, 3 Ann F. was admitted for psychiatric care to Norwich State Hospital (NSH). Thereafter, she was admitted to NSH on several more occasions with one stay lasting for more than one year. 4 At NSH, she was diagnosed with "chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia" and other disorders over the years including bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

While at NSH, Ann F. met and married Thomas F. 5 in 1982 and her first child, Eden, was born on July 2, 1988. Eden is a child with special needs. DCYS removed Eden from Ann F.'s care when Eden was only five days old, due to Ann F.'s psychiatric state. The court granted temporary custody of Eden to DCYS on July 15, 1988. On September 22, 1989, Eden was committed to the commissioner of children and youth services as a neglected child because of the hospital admission of Ann F. On that date, Ann F. signed expectations 6 that were accepted by the court. Eden remained in foster care until she was nearly three years old.

Although on January 31, 1991, the court granted DCYS's petition to extend Eden's commitment, Eden began living with her mother on February 1, 1991. While Eden lived with her mother, DCYS worked with Ann F. and provided a number of services to her. On June 13, 1991, the commissioner of children and youth services filed a petition to revoke Eden's commitment. The court granted DCYS's motion to revoke commitment on August 7, 1991.

In 1992, DCYS received four referrals concerning Ann F.'s conduct with Eden, including a report of Ann F.'s yelling, shaking and hitting Eden. Another referral, which was made just prior to the birth of Ann F.'s second child, Joann, on September 8, 1992, was from the Manchester police on July 16, 1992, alleging that "[t]he mother, Ann F., is a repeated complainant of sexual assault and strange goings on at the home. She claims that Randy M., the father of the child [Joann], sneaks in through the window at about 1:30 a.m. and sexually assaults [her]." That report also stated that she usually slept through it. It also indicated that "[t]he condition of the apartment is very slovenly with trash and clutter strewn about. The smoke detector was also deactivated due to the removal of the battery." In a call to DCYS, Ann F. reported that her boyfriend, Randy M., would break into her apartment with seven men who sexually harassed her and performed witchcraft techniques on her.

In March, 1993, DCYS received a referral from the Manchester Hospital emergency room that Ann F. had walked out of the visitor's lounge leaving Eden, then age four, to care for Joann, then seven months old. At that time, Ann F. was admitted to the hospital on a physician's emergency certificate, 7 and DCYS invoked a ninety-six hour hold on both children, who have been cared for in the same foster home ever since. Ann F. was transferred from Manchester Hospital to Cedarcrest Hospital where she remained until August, 1993. Upon her discharge from Cedarcrest, she began receiving services from Manchester Memorial Hospital Outpatient Mental Health Clinic and Horizons program. Horizons "provides services to the psychologically impaired so they can live independently in the community." Her case manager, Candace Stone, worked with Ann F. up to the time of trial.

On March 12, 1993, DCYS filed a petition seeking the commitment of Eden and Joann. On that date, the court granted an order of temporary custody of both children to DCYS. On October 21, 1993, the court adjudicated Eden and Joann neglected based on Ann F.'s plea of nolo contendere. The court committed the children to the department for the statutory period. Also on that date, Ann F. signed, and the court entered, a new set of expectations.

Ann F. was hospitalized three times in 1993 for mental instability. Eden and Joann were taken for weekly visits with Ann F. while she was in Cedarcrest in 1993. Weekly visitation continued after she returned home. Ann F. continued outpatient treatment at Manchester Memorial Hospital Mental Health Clinic. Throughout the remainder of 1993 and into the first six months of 1994, Ann F. stabilized within her limitations and participated in weekly supervised visits with her two children.

On June 1, 1994, the department developed what it called "an extensive plan ... to determine what was in the best interest of [Ann F.'s] children." This plan was to "give [Ann F.] every opportunity to prove her parenting abilities" and was to be executed through "the Exchange Club," which would supervise the children's visits with Ann F. The length of these visits would be increased from one hour to one and one-half hours for seven weeks. If these visits were successful, a series of unsupervised visits could be scheduled.

At a department case status conference on July 26, 1994, the consensus opinion was that "due to Eden's escalating behaviors" she should be "thoroughly evaluated by Newington Children's Hospital PEDAL 8 medical program," which evaluation began at the end of August, 1994. On September 4, 1994, in accordance with the Exchange Club recommendation, four weeks of unsupervised visitation began but there was no mechanism to assess these visits since they were unsupervised. On October 8, 1994, four weeks of overnight visitation began, with an emergency phone line available if Ann F. "needed assistance or had an emergency." These visits again could not be assessed since they were unsupervised. In any event, the children did not show any evidence of physical abuse. In late October, 1994, a decision was made to return Eden to Ann F. on a trial basis for two months to make a final determination of Ann F.'s "capabilities of caring for this child." The department's position was: "If this two month trial was successful then strong consideration would be given to returning the youngest child, Joann, home." In November, 1994, it was decided to put on hold Eden's return home to Ann F. until Ann F. obtained her own apartment.

Eden was returned to Ann F. on February 27, 1995. Difficulties with the reunification quickly appeared. At the time of Eden's return, PEDAL was in the midst of conducting a comprehensive evaluation of Eden as requested by the department. As part of this evaluation, Eden was seen for the following: pediatric neurology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, audiology, psychology, education and occupational therapy. The testing for this evaluation occurred from December, 1994, through April, 1995. The results of the PEDAL evaluation were not disclosed until after April 19, 1995. The evaluation indicated that Eden "is diagnosed with Reaction Attachment Disorder compounded by symptoms of depression, behavioral disturbance, including oppositionality and defiance." The evaluation made a number of suggestions on how to address Eden's needs given her "substantial behavioral and emotional issues."

Upon Eden's return to her mother, Eden did not attend school for almost three weeks. The department was aware, before Eden was returned to her mother, that there was a problem with the Manchester board of education in gaining her admission. Nevertheless, the department returned her.

Additionally, Eden's parent-child therapy with Thomas Spudic, a psychologist who worked with Ann F. and the children, ceased in December, 1994, when he left Connecticut. Therapy was not resumed until sometime in March, 1995, after Eden was returned to Ann F. Moreover, even though the department made arrangements for a parent aide, 9 who came once "within the first week or so" of Eden's return, neither the new therapist nor the parent aide was in place when Eden was returned. 10

A crisis phone line was put in place when Eden was returned to Ann F. The crisis line, aptly named, had as its apparent purpose to enable rapid communication by Ann F. with department staff. On Sunday, March 12, 1995, Ann F. called the crisis line and stated that she "needed someone to talk to and Eden had been a little out of control." 11 Apparently Ann F. was required to leave this information in a message. Kenneth Crosby, a department social worker, returned Ann F.'s call to the crisis line the following Friday, March 17, 1995, five days later.

On Tuesday, March 21, 1995, the department removed...

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  • In re Avia M.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • March 22, 2019
    ...the reasonable efforts requirement is drawn defines either the term "reasonable" or the term "efforts." See, e.g., In re Eden F. , 48 Conn. App. 290, 311, 710 A.2d 771 (1998), rev'd on other grounds, 250 Conn. 674, 741 A.2d 873 (1999). Absent any statutory definition, our courts have instea......
  • In re Eden F.
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    ...We reject these claims and reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court. The opinion of the Appellate Court; In re Eden F., 48 Conn. App. 290, 710 A.2d 771 (1998); sets forth the following relevant facts. "Ann F. was born in Hartford on February 27, 1959 ... [and] spent the majority of her c......
  • State v. Thompson
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    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • June 19, 2012
    ...it is much worse to make an erroneous decision in favor of one party than it is to make it in favor of the other.” In re Eden F., 48 Conn.App. 290, 316–17, 710 A.2d 771 (1998), rev'd on other grounds, 250 Conn. 674, 741 A.2d 873 (1999). Having considered the comparative social disutility of......
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    • June 19, 2012
    ...is much worse to make an erroneous decision in favor of one party than it is to make it in favor of the other.'' In re Eden F., 48 Conn. App. 290, 316-17, 710 A.2d 771 (1998), rev'd on other grounds, 250 Conn. 674, 741 A.2d 873 (1999). Having considered the comparative social disutility of ......
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