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In re Baciany R.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

October 26, 2016


          Argued October 5, 2016.

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk, Juvenile Matters, Randolph, J.

          James P. Sexton, assigned counsel, with whom were Emily L. Graner Sexton, assigned counsel, and, on the brief, Marina L. Green, assigned counsel, for the appellant (respondent).

          Pamela M. Magnano, with whom, on the brief, was Heather L. Perbeck, for the appellee (petitioner).

          Lavine, Beach and West, Js.


          LAVINE, J.

         The respondent father, Baciany R., appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating his parental rights as to his son, Baciany R. (child). On appeal, the respondent claims that the court improperly concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence that termination of his parental rights was in the best interest of the child. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         On October 10, 2013, the petitioner, Stephanie P., filed a termination of parental rights petition in the Court of Probate for the district of Stamford seeking to terminate the parental rights of the respondent on the grounds of abandonment and no ongoing parent-child relationship. See General Statutes § 45a-717 (g).[1]The termination petition was transferred to the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in Stamford. The matter was tried to the court in March, 2016; the court issued a memorandum of decision on March 17, 2016. The court issued an articulation on June 21, 2016.

         In its memorandum of decision and articulation, the court made the following findings of fact. At the time of trial, the child was four and one-half years old. Between December, 2011, and May, 2012, the respondent regularly visited the child and a few times bought the child baby items. He has not seen the child, however, since the child was six months old. The petitioner does not talk to the child about the respondent, and the child does not know that the respondent exists and would not recognize him.

         The court found that the child has a comfortable, contented, and loving relationship with the petitioner. They play together easily and enjoy one another's company. The petitioner provides the child with a balance of fun, learning, and limits. When he engages with the petitioner, the child is polite and curious. The child has a happy temperament and is not especially given to tantrums or angry outbursts. He has affectionate relationships with the petitioner, his maternal grandparents and aunt, and has age appropriate personal habits and self-care. The child relates well to other children. He has a variety of interests, and a strong capacity to focus on activities and to learn new things. He persists when toys and games present a challenge. His verbal skills and vocabulary are excellent. The child exhibits no serious psychopathy or significant emotional or behavioral concerns.

         Since 2012, the respondent has been incarcerated for possession of a gun and expects to be discharged in 2018. He was incarcerated between 2006 and 2009 for firing a gun that injured another person. The petitioner had a brief intimate relationship with the respondent, who impregnated her. At the time the petitioner was pregnant with the child, the respondent impregnated another woman, whom he later married. The respondent plans to resume living with the other woman when he is released from prison.

         The court also found that the respondent had a troubled relationship with his family. His father is unknown, and the respondent no longer sees the woman in Haiti who raised him until he was thirteen. He believed that the woman with whom he resided in the United States from the age of thirteen was his mother, but she told him when he was an adult that she was not his mother and put him out of the house.

         The respondent wishes to have a loving relationship with the child, but he has not been able to follow a law-abiding path. He does not want the child to believe that he has abandoned him. The respondent, however, is ‘‘disconnected'' from his emotions and pretends that he is unaffected by his own family's rejection of him. The court found that the respondent needs to resolve these issues through counseling, but until the time of trial, the respondent was unwilling to seek counseling. Until the respondent works through his emotions concerning his feelings of rejection, he will not be able to develop a healthy relationship with the child. The respondent also is unfamiliar with parenting.

         Moreover, the respondent has provided almost no financial support for the child. After the child was born, the respondent did not pay for baby wipes, diapers, or formula. He failed to purchase clothing for the child on a regular basis. He has not paid for any of the child's education expenses. Inasmuch as the respondent is incarcerated, he has no income. The court did not credit the respondent's testimony that he has ready employment available once he is released from incarceration.

         The petitioner returned to work two months after the child was born and placed the child in day care at a cost of $250 per week. The respondent did not contribute to the child's day care expenses. In 2011, the petitioner sought child support payments from the petitioner. Although the parties reached an agreement, the agreement was not entered as a court order. The respondent had agreed to pay 25 percent of the child support until he could work more hours at his job, but he never made any child support payments, stating that he had no money. He has provided no support for the child since June, 2012.

         At the time of trial, the petitioner and the child lived with the child's maternal grandparents, who helped the petitioner with insurance premium payments, food, and babysitting. The child attended a preschool; the petitioner paid a co-pay and Care for Kids paid the balance of the fee. The petitioner's sister and grandfather also provided care for the child. The petitioner worked at a pharmacy, earning $15.50 an hour, and attended nursing school from which she expected to graduate in September, 2016.

         In response to the respondent's motion for articulation, the court stated that, with help, the petitioner meets all of the child's needs. Her future earnings as a nurse will allow her to meet the child's needs with less financial assistance from her parents. The respondent has provided no financial support since the child was six months old, and his future earnings are speculative at best. The child's greatest need is permanency in a placement that affords emotional health and development. The petitioner is meeting his physical, emotional, educational, medical, and moral needs. The child does not know his father, the respondent, and would not recognize him. He has no memories of the respondent. The court concluded that it is in the child's best interest that the respondent be relieved of his financial obligations to the child, an obligation that he has not met since 2012.

         The court found by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent had abandoned the child and that he had no ongoing relationship with the child. The court further found by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the child's best interest that the respondent's parental rights be terminated. The respondent appealed and thereafter filed a motion for articulation; see Practice Book § 61-10; which the trial court denied. The respondent then filed a motion for review; see Practice Book § 66-7; which this court granted.

         In response to the respondent's request that the court articulate how the child's permanency needs are advanced by terminating the respondent's parental rights, the court repeated its factual findings as to the child's happy temperament, his affectionate relationships with the petitioner, his maternal grandparents and aunt, and his great grandfather. The court also iterated its findings with respect to the child's behavior, personal habits, his relations with other children, his interests, and his ...

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