In re Heather L.

Citation877 A.2d 27,49 Conn. Supp. 287,49 Conn.Sup. 287
CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Decision Date30 March 2004
PartiesIn re HEATHER L. et al.

Michael J. McAndrews, Simsbury, for the respondent father.

Marcia McCormack, Concord, NH, for the respondent mother.

Roger E. Chiasson II, Bristol, for the minor children.

Susanne D. McNamara, New Britain, guardian ad litem, for the minor children.

Carrie B. Taylor, assistant attorney general, for the petitioner.

I

INTRODUCTION

TROMBLEY, J.

This case arises out of petitions filed with the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in New Britain on September 20, 2002, by the petitioner, the commissioner of children and families (commissioner), in which the commissioner seeks the termination of the parental rights of the respondent mother and the respondent father in their minor children, H, who was born on February 24, 1996, and is currently eight years of age, and L, who was born on October 15, 1997, and is currently six years of age.

The commissioner claims, as a basis for the termination of the respondent father's parental rights, three of the statutory grounds provided in General Statutes § 17a-112(j)(3). The commissioner alleges that the children have been abandoned by the respondent father, that the respondent father has failed to rehabilitate himself and that there is no ongoing parent-child relationship between the two children and the respondent father.

As to the respondent mother, the commissioner had alleged that she failed to rehabilitate herself within the meaning of § 17a-112(j)(3)(B)(ii). The respondent mother, however, consented to the termination of her parental rights on the third and final day of the trial, after this court conducted a full canvass in the presence of her attorney, and found her consent to be knowingly and voluntarily entered with a full understanding of the legal consequences.

The commissioner will file the appropriate amendment to reflect the respondent mother's consent as the sole ground for the termination of her parental rights.

The respondents and the children were represented by court-appointed counsel throughout the proceedings. The trial was held on three days, October 6 and November 25, 2003, and March 8, 2004. The court heard from seven witnesses, all called by the commissioner, including two court-appointed evaluators (a psychiatrist and a psychologist), two caseworkers with the department of children and families (department), a visitation supervisor, a family therapist and the foster mother. The court also heard from the attorney who served as the children's guardian ad litem, who was also appointed by the court. The court received twenty-three exhibits into evidence, all introduced by the commissioner. The court took judicial notice of the following five items: (1) a department caseworker's (Janis Courter) affidavit dated April 17, 1997; (2) a department caseworker's (Martin Vega, Jr.) affidavit dated April 15, 1997; (3) a department caseworker's (Calvin Williams) affidavit dated October 26, 1999; and (4) and (5) each respondent's specific steps dated March 17, 2000, pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-129(j), designed to facilitate the return to them of their children.

This court, after reading the termination petitions and the summary of the adjudicatory facts accompanying them, reviewing all exhibits, considering the testimony of each witness, assessing the credibility of each witness and considering the arguments of counsel, makes the following findings.

II

HISTORY OF PROCEEDINGS

A As to Respondent Mother's Oldest Child

It is important to note that this court, after a three day trial, terminated the parental rights of G, who is the father of the respondent mother's oldest child, A, who was born on August 2, 1989, and is currently fourteen years of age. The commissioner did not seek the termination of the respondent mother's parental rights as to A, as to do so would not have been in the child's best interest. The approved permanency plan for A is independent living. The court's memorandum of decision relative to A was filed on December 12, 2003, and contains many historical facts that are applicable to the respondents and the two children in this case.

The respondent mother's youngest child, S, apparently continues to reside with her. Little was mentioned of that child during the trial, and little is found in the exhibits. S is approximately two and one-half years of age. This court has no evidence as to her paternity.

B Previous Court Proceedings

At the commencement of the trial on October 6, 2003, the court recited the history of this case as reflected in the record of previous court proceedings. All counsel agreed with the accuracy of the court's recitation. A transcript of that history is in the court file. This court will briefly mention the significant events:

March 25, 1997: The commissioner filed a neglect-uncared for petition as to A and H.

April 17, 1997: The court issued an order of temporary custody as to both children.

December 12, 1997: L was added to the neglect petition; the commissioner did not seek an order of temporary custody for L.

January 16, 1998: A and H were committed to the custody of the commissioner.

May 27, 1998: Protective supervision was ordered for L.

July 13, 1999: A and H were returned to parental care under an order of protective supervision.

October 26, 1999: An order of temporary custody was issued as to all three children. Since then, none of the children have been returned to parental care.

March 17, 2000: All three children were committed to the custody of the commissioner. Their commitment remains in effect.

September 20, 2002: The termination petitions were filed by the commissioner.

C

Events Prior to Order of Temporary Custody dated April 17, 1997

On October 24, 1994, the department received a call from A's paternal uncle indicating that A, who was then five years of age, was "black as coal," that the respondent mother was using crack cocaine, that there was no food in the house and that the child was not receiving medical attention. The uncle also indicated that A had threatened to blow someone's head off with the respondent father's gun. The referral was substantiated.

On November 27, 1995, school personnel reported that A, then age six, was missing a lot of school and that when she did attend, she was dirty. The home was reported to be in "deplorable condition." The teachers reported that A cried daily. A disclosed that she had nightmares that the respondent father would come and kidnap her, and that the respondent mother invited "many men" into her home. The referral was substantiated.

On December 6, 1995, school officials complained that A was coming to school with holes in her clothing and was sexually acting out. She appeared dirty and had a foul odor. Again, the referral was substantiated.

On February 26, 1996, school officials reported that A had many scratches and bruises that were inconsistent with the child's explanation as to how they occurred. The maternal grandmother reported that the respondent mother was manic depressive and was unable to care for the child. The referral was substantiated.

On June 20, 1996, school officials reported that A had been absent twenty-seven times and late seventeen times. A told school officials that at times, she was unable to wake up the respondent mother, who also was caring for four month old H. Again, the referral was substantiated.

On July 1, 1996, an anonymous caller complained to the department that both respondents were using crack cocaine, selling cocaine and selling prescription drugs. It was reported that there were no diapers for H and that the two children were filthy. It was also reported that A knew how to cook crack cocaine. Again, the referral was substantiated.

On December 30, 1996, another anonymous caller reported to the department that both parents were using crack cocaine, that the children were dirty, and that the baby was drinking water and not milk. Again, the referral was substantiated by the department.

The commissioner, on March 25, 1997, on the basis of that history and the substantiation of continuing neglect and drug use, filed a neglect petition alleging that both A and H were neglected and uncared for.

The order of temporary custody was issued only three weeks after the neglect petition was filed, as the respondent mother was then homeless and was moving, temporarily, from place to place with the two children. The respondent mother was continuing to abuse cocaine. The children were neglected and were constantly filthy, and the respondent mother was leaving the children with her mother, who was a person well known to the local police.

On April 14, 1997, the department received an anonymous report that the respondent father was picking up H by the neck and shirt, and throwing her against a wall onto a bed, and that the respondent mother was abusing cocaine, Valium and Percocet. The respondent mother and her children were living in one room in a home in which three other adults and a fourteen year old child resided. The department's investigator observed clothes strewn throughout the house and reported that the house was a complete mess. The respondent mother indicated that she planned to move in with another friend and that her stay at that home was only temporary. The respondent mother informed the investigator that the respondent father had left her several days before. The respondent mother was arrested on an outstanding warrant. The commissioner initiated a ninety-six hour hold, as H had no appropriate caretaker. A, who was with her maternal grandmother, was also removed by the department, as she was not receiving proper care and attention.

Despite the many previous substantiated referrals to the department, neither the respondent mother nor the maternal grandmother were cooperating with the department or its...

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    ... ... enable them to spend their remaining childhood years in a ... " forever home" in which they are nurtured, kept ... safe, and supported on a continuous basis, without risk of ... further delay. [ 170 ] In re Heather L. , 49 ... Conn.Supp. 287, 313, 877 A.2d 27 (2004), aff'd, 274 Conn ... 174, 874 A.2d 796 (2005) ... V ... ORDERS ... The ... court terminates the parental rights of Santos N. to Luis N ... and to Marializ N ... ...
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