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In re Carlos S.

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Windham, Willimantic, Juvenile Matters

September 1, 2016

In re Carlos S. [1]


          Francis J. Foley, Judge Trial Referee.

         This petition is assigned for a contested hearing on the termination of the parental rights of Sharon B. to her minor children, Carlos, born September 2, 2009, and Natalie, born January 3, 2011. The case arose as a petition by the children's father Daniel S. to terminate parental rights filed in the Ellington Probate Court, District 12 and was subsequently transferred to the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in Rockville. It was thereafter transferred to this court for a contested hearing.

         The court finds that service has been given in accordance with the Connecticut General Statutes and the Practice Book. Counsel have appeared for the respondent, the petitioner and the child. This court has jurisdiction in this matter. There is no other action known to this court to be pending in any other court affecting custody of the children. There does not appear to be any claim of American Indian tribal affiliation.

         The biological parents were present in court for the commencement of a trial for the termination of the respondent's parental rights. At the commencement of the trial, the respondent, biological mother, consented to the termination of her parental rights. This court has found that she voluntarily and knowingly consented to the termination of her rights, having received the advice and assistance of competent legal counsel and having understood the consequences of her actions. In re Yasiel, 317 Conn. 773, 120 A.3d 1188 (2015). The consent was accepted by this court. The petition has been amended by the court to allege as the sole ground for termination of the respondent, her consent to the termination. A social study prepared by the Department of Children and Families, dated November 19, 2015, has been marked as an exhibit by agreement. No findings are necessary to be made pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-112(k) due to the respondent's consent.

         In determining whether termination of the respondents' parental rights would be in the children's best interest, the court must examine multiple relevant factors including the children's interest in safety, stability and continuity of their care; the length of stay of the children in the care of their father and step-mother; the nature of the children's relationship with their biological mother and step-mother, the prospects for the mother's rehabilitation and the current living conditions of the respective claimants. In addition in this Probate court case, this court considers the directions of the Ellington Probate Court which ordered the Department of Children and Families to provide sufficient information regarding approval of a step-parent adoption should the Court make a finding of termination of parental rights. See § 45a-727 and 45a-733 (step-parent adoption).

         The court, following the conclusion of the hearing, has completely reviewed the court file and, in particular, has read the only document admitted into evidence, the social study of November 19, 2015. The report reveals that the father, the mother and the step-parent, all have profound histories of childhood dysfunction, including physical abuse, chronic physical neglect, emotional abuse and out of home placement.

         The father, 27 years old, has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, encopresis, and schizotypal personality disorder. He does not comply with his psychotropic medication prescription. The children's mother, Sharon, came from a divorced family with addiction problems. She is presently 26 years old. Her mother was removed as her guardian and Sharon was placed in foster homes beginning at age four. She states she was sexually abused, she suffers mood disturbances, self-injurious behavior and aggression toward others. She has been abusing crack cocaine, alcohol, heroin and opiates for most of her adult life. She has been in almost every treatment program available to DCF and to the criminal court system. She has been prevented by court order from seeing the children for about three years. Sharon has no employment history and, when last known, was not seeking employment. She has received social security disability payments due to her mental health issues since age 18.

         The step-mother, DLS, [2] has a similar history of out of home placements. She is presently 24 years of age. She married Daniel in May 2014. Since the marriage she has had two children issue of the marriage a daughter, Abigail, now age two and an infant born sometime after the DCF report last November. DLS does not know her father's identity. Her mother was killed in a car accident in 1997. Since age five she has been in a series of foster homes and an adoptive home. Her first of many psychiatric hospital admissions was in May 2005, at the Waterbury Hospital for aggressive and violent behaviors following neglectful treatment at the DCF foster home where she lived. At some point in 2005, DLS was remanded to juvenile detention until June 28, 2005. Since that time she has been in Klingberg Family Center, Riverview Hospital, readmission to Waterbury Hospital psychiatric unit for attempted suicide, and Waterford Country Home, among other placements. At age twenty she was transitioned into the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

         DLS reports health problems and mental health problems. She has orthodontic needs, juvenile arthritis and stomach ulcers. Her arthritic condition which requires ankle and knee braces, and a walker, is worsened by morbid obesity. She is extremely limited in her mobility. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression.

         As indicated earlier, the social study in this case was completed in November 2015.[3] The social study recommends against approval of the petition for termination of parental rights. It is noted that this study was done prior to the consent of the biological mother and prior to the birth of an additional child. The level of care of the children was problematic before the birth of this most recent child.

         The social study indicated that, then aged 18 months, Abigail was bathed once a week. She was kept in a gated room most of the day. The oldest child Carlos is now seven years of age. He has been identified as developmentally delayed. He receives speech, language and occupational supports at school. He has enuresis and wets his bed often.

         Red flags were noted in the social study. On January 20, 2015, DCF received a report of Natalie having a bruise on her forehead. On January 23, 2015, Carlos' eye was swollen shut and he had a cut lip. Carlos said his father punched him. On May 6, 2015, the children's school notified DCF that Natalie had an injury to her neck that Natalie said was caused by her mom. When the caller lifted Natalie's hair to observe the injury, a clump of her hair fell out. On June 11, 2015 the school reported that Natalie stated that the stepmother had caused an abrasion on Natalie's chest.

         There is a suggestion in the social study that the step-mother is over-whelmed with child care and is physically very limited. Since then a newborn infant has been added to the mix. As of October 2015, DCF had an open investigation of the family.

         This court is unable to assess the best interests of the children given the lack of current information. The Department is directed to conduct an up-to-date social study regarding the children's present condition and to make a recommendation regarding a ...

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