Ellis V.N., 052008 CTSUP, W10CP06014999A

Docket Nº:W 10 CP06-014999-A
Opinion Judge:(with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Foley, Francis J., S.J.
Party Name:In re Ellis V.N.
Court:Superior Court of Connecticut
 
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In re Ellis V.N.

W 10 CP06-014999-A

Superior Court of Connecticut, Willimantic

May 20, 2008

         Caption Date: May 20, 2008

         (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Foley, Francis J., S.J.

         Opinion Title: MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

               This case presents a petition for the termination of the parental rights of Catharina O., the mother of all the children listed above. The petition was filed on September 10, 2007. The petitioner is the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The fathers named by Catharina are Chris F., male biological progenitor of Zandelee, whereabouts unknown, last known to be residing in South Africa; Rashid B., male biological progenitor of Julian, whereabouts unknown, last known to be residing in South Africa: Jackie Mung S., male biological progenitor of Ellis, whereabouts unknown, last known to be residing in South Africa. The father of Abigail is Darin O., Catharina's present husband. At the trial, and with previous Immigration and Naturalization authorities, the parties maintained that Abigail was issue of the marriage. The social study indicates that they have subsequently stated that the child is not issue of the marriage. The court will not permit them to alter the legal status of the child by inconsistent declaration.1

               The court finds that notice has been given in accordance with the Conn. Gen. Stat. and the Practice Book. The missing South African fathers have been served constructively by publication which has been confirmed. The South African fathers have not participated in these proceedings which date back to May 22, 2006. These fathers have failed to appear for trial. They are defaulted for his failure to appear.

               The court has jurisdiction in this matter. There is no other action pending in any other court affecting custody of the child known to this court. The South African fathers have been unable or unwilling to make themselves available or benefit from services and have not had contact with DCF at any time. Since these three persons are similarly situated, geographically and behaviorally, the court will address their rights initially and collectively.

               The trial of this case occurred over three days beginning on May 6th and ending on May 8th. The court heard from seventeen witnesses including the mother of all the children and the father of Abigail. Twenty-six documents were entered into evidence. The identified issues include:

         

1) the issue of termination of parental rights;

         

2) the issues of permanency plans previously submitted;

         

3) a motion to transfer guardianship to a paternal uncle in South Africa;2

         

4) a determination regarding Special Immigrant Juvenile Status:

               a.) Issue of their present legal status as committed children

               b) Determination regarding foster care/adoption and re-unification viability

               c) best interest of the children vis a vis the country of origin.

         

The court having read the verified petition and considered the testimony, social study, and other documentary evidence, makes the following findings by clear and convincing evidence.

               Findings re: the South African fathers Chris F., Rashid B., and Jackie Mung S.:

               The court finds that efforts to reunify the fathers with their children has been unsuccessful due to their lack of involvement with their respective child while the children were living in South Africa preceding and following the commencement of this action. Catharina has indicated that none of these men participated in supporting and raising the children. Only one of the children, Julian, had even the briefest of relationships with their father. None of these men provided support, interest, concern or any investment of time with their respective child. They all left Catharina during her pregnancy or shortly thereafter. None has developed a relationship with their offspring.

               In the case of Michael H. v. Mark K., 898 P.2d. 891, 896 (Cal. 1995), the California Supreme Court held that unless the natural father can prove "that he has promptly come forward and demonstrated his full commitment to his parental responsibilities ". . . the federal Constitution protects only the parental relationship that the unwed father has actively developed." citing Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248, 261 (1983). These respondents did not assert their rights to paternity nor exercise the responsibilities of fatherhood. They did not vigorously and actively assert their paternal claim. They have each abandoned their respective child. They have never provided financial, educational or moral support for the child.

         

I. Adjudication as to three male biological progenitors

               With respect to the statutory grounds for termination of parental rights of Chris F., Rashid B., and Jackie Mung S., the court finds by clear and convincing evidence presented in this case, that the male biological parents of Ellis, Zandelee and Julian, have failed to maintain an ongoing parent-child relationship with their child that ordinarily develops as a result of a parent having met on a continuing day-to-day basis the physical, moral, emotional or educational needs of the child/youth and to allow further time for the establishment or re-establishment of the parent-child relationship would be detrimental to the best interests of the child. The court further finds that the children have been abandoned in that these fathers have not provided food and shelter for the children, nor have they provided the daily emotional support and guidance children need, nor provided the children with the interest, concern or responsibility necessary for the child's welfare. They have each abandoned their children as that term is defined and understood pursuant to §17a-112(j)(3)(A).

         

Required Findings as to Chris F., Rashid B., and Jackie Mung S.

               The court makes the following factual findings required by Conn. Gen. Stat. §17a-112(e) as to the missing fathers, which findings are made upon clear and convincing evidence.

               1. Finding regarding the timeliness, nature and extent of services offered or provided to the parent and the child by an agency to facilitate the reunion of the child with the parent.

               The father's whereabouts are unknown to the court and to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) since the commencement of the department's involvement in this case. No services could have been provided.

         

2. Finding regarding whether the Department of Children and Families has made reasonable efforts to reunite the family pursuant to the Federal Child Welfare Act of 1980, as amended.

               DCF has been unable to make reasonable efforts as to these fathers due to their location and his lack of interest in reunification with the child.

         

3. Finding regarding the terms of any applicable court order entered into and agreed upon by any individual or agency and the parent, and the extent to which all parties have fulfilled their obligations under such order.

               No expectations or steps were ever set for these fathers.

         

4. Finding regarding the feelings and emotional ties of the child with respect to his/her parents, any guardian of his/her person and any person who has exercised physical care, custody or control of the child for at least one year and with whom the child has developed significant emotional ties.

               The children have developed emotional ties with the extended foster families who have provided the physical, emotional and educational support these children need. The children clearly have no emotional ties to the absent biological fathers.

         

5. Finding regarding the age of the children.

         

Ellis is 15, Zandelee is 13 and Julian is 11.

         6. Finding regarding the efforts the parent has made to adjust his/her circumstances, conduct, or conditions to make it in the best interest of the child to return him/her to his/her home in the foreseeable future, including, but not limited to: (A) the extent to which the parent has maintained contact with the child as part of an effort to reunite the child with the parent, provided the court may give weight to incidental visitations, communications or contributions and (B) the maintenance of regular contact or communication with the guardian or other custodian of the child.

               Due to the nature of this case this finding is only marginally applicable. The biological fathers have made no efforts to involve themselves in the lives of these children. They have no parental relationship or involvement with the children.

         

7. Finding regarding the extent to which a parent has been prevented from maintaining a meaningful relationship with the child by the unreasonable act or conduct of the other parent of the child, or the unreasonable act of any other person or by the economic circumstances of the parent.

               No unreasonable acts are known to this court.

         

II. Adjudication as to the mother of all the children.

               Catharina was born in Germiston, South Africa in February 1974. She is presently 34 years of age. A DCF social study reports, and the court confirms from her appearance at trial, that she is seriously underweight, appearing to be no more than 70 pounds. She appears anorexic, anxious, and suspicious. She admits to a continuing use of crack cocaine.3

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