Megan M., In re

Decision Date02 April 1991
Docket NumberNo. 8847,8847
Citation24 Conn.App. 338,588 A.2d 239
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesIn re MEGAN M. *

Philip W. Ball, New Haven, for appellant (respondent mother).

Paul J. Bakulski, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom, on the brief was Susan T. Pearlman, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee (petitioner).

Lynn Jenkins, New Haven, for minor child.

Before DUPONT, C.J., and NORCOTT and LANDAU, JJ.

LANDAU, Judge.

The respondent mother 1 appeals from a judgment terminating her parental rights with respect to her minor daughter, Megan, pursuant to a petition filed by the department of children and youth services (DCYS) in accordance with General Statutes § 17-43a(b)(4) (now § 17a-112[b]. 2

The respondent claims that the trial court improperly found that no ongoing parent-child relationship existed. The respondent's underlying contention is that two findings are not supported by the evidence. The findings are that DCYS provided Megan with counseling for reunification and that DCYS did not prevent the respondent from maintaining a meaningful relationship with Megan. The sole issue on appeal, therefore, is whether the trial court's conclusion that no ongoing relationship existed is supported by the evidence.

Megan was born on July 23, 1982, and has been in foster care with the same foster family since August, 1984. In November, 1984, the court determined that she was neglected by her natural parents and committed Megan to the care and custody of the commissioner of DCYS.

" 'The termination of parental rights is defined as "the complete severance by court order of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child and his parent...." General Statutes § 45-61b(g). It is "a most serious and sensitive judicial action." Anonymous v. Norton, 168 Conn. 421, 430, 362 A.2d 532, cert. denied, 423 U.S. 935, 96 S.Ct. 294, 46 L.Ed.2d 268 (1975). "Although that ultimate interference by the state in the parent-child relationship may be required under certain circumstances, the natural rights of parents in their children 'undeniably warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection.' ..." ' " (Citations omitted.) In re Juvenile Appeal (Anonymous), 181 Conn. 638, 640, 436 A.2d 290 (1980), quoting In re Juvenile Appeal (Anonymous), 177 Conn. 648, 671, 420 A.2d 875 (1979).

The statutory criteria set forth in General Statutes § 17-43a must be satisfied before a termination of parental rights can be accomplished. In re Luis C., 210 Conn. 157, 163, 554 A.2d 722 (1989). General Statutes § 17-43a(b)(4) provided for the termination of parental rights if, upon clear and convincing evidence, it is proved that no ongoing parent-child relationship has existed in excess of one year, 3 and requires the court to undertake a two-pronged analysis. "First, there must be a determination that no parent-child relationship exists; and second, the court must look into the future and determine whether it would be detrimental to the child's best interests to allow time for such a relationship to develop." In re Juvenile Appeal (84-3), 1 Conn.App. 463, 479, 473 A.2d 795, cert. denied, 193 Conn. 802, 474 A.2d 1259 (1984).

The statutory term "no ongoing parent-child relationship" has been interpreted "to contemplate a situation in which, regardless of fault, a child either has never known his or her parents, so that no relationship has ever developed between them, or has definitely lost that relationship, so that despite its former existence it has now been completely displaced." In re Juvenile Appeal (Anonymous), supra, 177 Conn. at 670, 420 A.2d 875. In addition, the mere fact that there has been some minimal contact between the parent and the child does not require a determination that an ongoing parent-child relationship has existed in excess of one year. In re Juvenile Appeal, supra, 181 Conn. at 646, 436 A.2d 290. In determining whether there is an ongoing parent-child relationship, the court should consider the feelings of the child toward the parent, especially if those feelings are positive rather than negative. See In re Juvenile Appeal (84-6), 2 Conn.App. 705, 709, 483 A.2d 1101 (1984), cert. denied, 195 Conn. 801, 487 A.2d 564 (1985).

The trial court thoroughly articulated its findings pursuant to General Statutes § 17-43a(d) (now § 17a-112[d]. Specifically, the court found that DCYS offered timely and appropriate services to the parents and made prolonged and extensive efforts to promote and facilitate visitation including providing the respondent with a bus pass, transporting Megan to and from several visits and changing visitation sites. Neither parent was prevented from maintaining a meaningful relationship with the child. Both the respondent and DCYS fulfilled their obligations and court ordered expectations. In particular, the court noted the respondent's laudable efforts to adjust her circumstances, conduct and conditions to persuade the court that it would be in the best interests of the child to return Megan to the respondent's home. By 1987, the respondent had successfully overcome her drug and alcohol addictions, as well as serious illnesses, and had stabilized her life. Megan, however, resists any suggestion that the respondent is her mother or that she be returned to the respondent. She harbors only negative feelings for the respondent. Megan has strong positive feelings and emotional ties toward her foster parents, with whom she has lived since 1984.

In addition, the court noted that as reunification efforts progressed,...

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29 cases
  • Michael M., In re
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • September 15, 1992
    ... ... at 708-709, 483 A.2d 1101. This standard contemplates a relationship that has some positive attributes. In re Jessica M., supra, 217 Conn. at 470, 586 A.2d 597. In considering whether an ongoing parent child relationship exists, we must consider the feelings of the child. In re Megan M., 24 Conn.App. 338, 341, 588 A.2d 239 (1991); In re Juvenile Appeal (84-6), supra, 2 Conn.App. at 709, 483 A.2d 1101 ...         This court, in In re Juvenile Appeal (84-6), supra, concluded that "in applying [the] definition [of no ongoing parent-child relationship] we focus on 'the ... ...
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    ... ...         However, there was testimony elicited during the trial from DCF social worker Morris. Morris testified that Theo does ask Deborah, during visitation, if he can talk to his father, and he uses Deborah's cellphone to talk to him ...         In In re Megan M., 24 Conn.App. 338, 341-42, 588 A.2d 239 (1991), the Appellate Court set forth the test for no going relationship: ...         The statutory criteria set forth in [CGS] §17-43a [now §17a-112] must be satisfied before a termination of parental rights can be accomplished. In re Luis ... ...
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    ... ...         However, there was testimony elicited during the trial from DCF social worker Boutin-Tsanjoures. Boutin-Tsanjoures testified that Jordan, Tianna and Brianna do ask about Rayanto ...          In re Megan M., 24 Conn.App. 338, 341-42, 588 A.2d 239 (1991), the Appellate Court set forth the test for no ongoing relationship: ...         The statutory criteria set forth in [CGS] §17-43a [now §17a-112] must be satisfied before a termination of parental rights can be accomplished. In re Luis ... ...
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