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In re Gabriella C.-G.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

December 18, 2018

IN RE GABRIELLA C.-G. ET AL.[*]

          Argued November 13, 2018 [**]

         Procedural History

         Petitions by the Commissioner of Children and Families to terminate the respondents' parental rights with respect to their minor children, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London, Juvenile Matters at Waterford, and tried to the court, Driscoll, J.; judgments terminating the respondents' parental rights, from which the respondent mother appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Kirsten F., self-represented, the appellant (respondent mother).

          Stephen G. Vitelli, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were George Jepsen, attorney general, and Benjamin Zivyon, assistant attorney general, for the appellee (petitioner).

          Priscilla Hammond, for the minor child Dallas C.

          Ryan Ziolkowski, for the minor child Gabriella C.-G. et al.

          Peter D. Catania, for the father Brandon M.

          DiPentima, C.J., and Alvord and Flynn, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The respondent mother, Kirsten F., appeals from the judgments of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, terminating her parental rights with respect to her five minor children, Gabriella, Mason, Dallas, Lillyana and Zuri.[1] She claims on appeal that the court erred in (1) violating her constitutional rights by holding her to ‘‘unlawful, vague, high standards of care, compared to all the other parties . . . associated with the care and keeping'' of the five children, (2) denying ‘‘the right to a comparison of the foster parents . . . and [the Department of Children and Families (the department)] provided level of care that she was held to, '' including not allowing an injury report from the Office of the Child Advocate as to Dallas, (3) finding that the department made ‘‘reasonable efforts'' to reunify her with any of her five children, (4) making the statement, ‘‘this family can't and won't benefit from reunification''; (internal quotation marks omitted); and (5) stating that ‘‘it's in the best interest''; (internal quotation marks omitted); of the five minor children for her to lose her parental rights.

         On April 13, 2018, after hearing from seventeen witnesses and considering seventy exhibits over six days, the court ordered, inter alia, the termination of the parental rights of the respondent mother, stating: ‘‘Wherefore, after due consideration of the children's need for a secure, permanent placement, and the totality of the circumstances, and having considered all statutory criteria, and having found by clear and convincing evidence that reasonable efforts at reunification with [the parents] were made and that each was unwilling or unable to benefit from those efforts, and that grounds exist to terminate [the respondent]'s . . . parental rights for a failure to rehabilitate as alleged . . . it is in the children's best interest to do so . . . .''

         Under the applicable standard of review of the adjudicatory ground of failure to rehabilitate, we must determine ‘‘whether the trial court could have reasonably concluded, upon the facts established and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, that the cumulative effect of the evidence was sufficient to justify its [ultimate conclusion]. . . . When applying this standard, we construe the evidence in a manner most favorable to sustaining the judgment of the trial court.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Egypt E., 327 Conn. 506, 526, 175 A.3d 21, cert. denied sub nom. Morsy E. v. Commissioner, Dept. of Children & Families, __U.S.__, 139 S.Ct. 88, __L.Ed.2d __(2018). ‘‘It is well settled that we will overturn the trial court's decision that the termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the [child] only if the court's findings are clearly erroneous.'' In re Athena C., 181 Conn.App. 803, 811, 186 A.3d 1198, cert. denied, 329 Conn. 911, 186 A.3d 14 (2018).

         Having reviewed the findings of the court as set forth in its thoughtful and thorough decision, we conclude that under the applicable standards of review, they are ...


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