In re Miracle C., 120120 CTCA, AC 44006

Docket Nº:AC 44006
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:IN RE MIRACLE C. [*]
Attorney:David J. Reich, for the appellant (respondent mother). Rene´e Bevacqua Bollier, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were William Tong, attorney general, and Benjamin Zivyon, Stephen G. Vitelli, and Evan O'Roark, assistant attorneys general.
Judge Panel:Alvord, Cradle and Sullivan, Js.
Case Date:December 01, 2020
Court:Appellate Court of Connecticut


No. AC 44006

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

December 1, 2020 [**]

Argued October 6, 2020

Procedural History

Petition by the Commissioner of Children and Families to terminate the respondents' parental rights with respect to their minor child, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven, Juvenile Matters, where the matter was tried to the court, Marcus, J.; judgment terminating the respondents' parental rights, from which the respondent mother appealed to this court.

Appeal dismissed.

David J. Reich, for the appellant (respondent mother).

Rene´e Bevacqua Bollier, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were William Tong, attorney general, and Benjamin Zivyon, Stephen G. Vitelli, and Evan O'Roark, assistant attorneys general.

Alvord, Cradle and Sullivan, Js.



The respondent mother, Priscilla W., appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating her parental rights with respect to her minor child, M.1 On appeal, she claims that the court erroneously concluded that the Department of Children and Families (department) had made reasonable efforts at reunification, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (1). The respondent does not claim that the court erred in its additional conclusion that she was unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification efforts. Because the respondent challenges only one of the two bases for the court's determination that § 17a-112 (j) (1) had been satisfied, we conclude that the respondent's appeal is moot.2

The following facts, which were found by the trial court, and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The child was born at Yale New Haven Hospital (hospital) in 2018. Shortly after the child was born, the hospital made a referral to the department. The referral was made on the basis of, inter alia, the respondent's significant mental health history, including past diagnoses of adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct, bipolar disorder, depression, oppositional defiance disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. At the time of the child's birth, the respondent had not been engaged in any mental health treatment since 2013.

The respondent also was involved in two domestic violence incidents with the child's father. See footnote 1 of this opinion. The first occurred in April, 2017, and the second occurred on January 4, 2018, while the respondent was pregnant with the child. Despite protective orders protecting the respondent from the child's father, the respondent planned, upon her discharge from the hospital following the birth of the child, to resume living with the child's father.

On February 5, 2018, the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families (commissioner), pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-101g, placed a ninety-six hour holdon the child. On February 9, 2018, the commissioner filed a motion for an order of temporary custody, which was granted ex parte that same day. Also on February 9, 2018, the commissioner filed a neglect petition. The order of temporary custody was consolidated with the neglect petition. After a hearing on February 23, 2018, the court sustained the order of temporary custody and adjudicated the child neglected. On April 19, 2018, the court committed the child to the custody of the commissioner. The commissioner filed a petition for the termination of the parental rights of the respondent on May 7, 2019.

Beginning on October 28, 2019, the court, Marcus, J., held a trial on the petition for termination of parental rights. The court rendered judgment terminating the respondent's parental rights on January 6, 2020.3 The court found in relevant part that (1) the department had made reasonable efforts at reunification and (2) the respondent was unable or unwilling to benefit from those efforts at reunification.

The court set forth detailed findings regarding the services offered to the respondent and her level of engagement with and failure to benefit from such services. Specifically, the court found that despite attending weekly, trauma focused therapy through Integrated Wellness with Rachel Forbes, a therapist, from April, 2018 to March, 2019, the respondent made ‘‘little to no progress.'' The respondent also refused to increase her therapy sessions to twice weekly, as recommended by a psychological evaluation in November, 2018.4

The court further found that the respondent exhibited ‘‘extremely dysregulated behavior, '' including during one incident on July 2, 2018. That day, the department's social worker had transported the respondent and the child to a doctor's appointment for the child. After the appointment, the respondent and the social worker disagreed about the order of drop-offs. The respondent wanted to be dropped off first, began screaming that she wanted to go home, removed the social worker's keys from the car's ignition, and exited the car with the child. The social worker called the police, while the respondent engaged in a tantrum on the side of the road before eventually handing the child to the social worker. In another incident in March, 2019, the respondent expressed threats during a therapy session with Forbes and was admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Middlesex Hospital. She was discharged with a recommendation for intensive outpatient treatment and prescribed Seroquel for her diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

From March through June, 2019, the court found that the respondent refused to attend either of two different trauma based therapy programs, Yale Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program (Yale program) and State Street Counseling, offered by the department. Although the respondent did complete the Yale program in July, 2019, employees of the Yale program reported to the department that the respondent had failed to accept responsibility...

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