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In re Angelina M.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

February 1, 2019

IN RE ANGELINA M.[*]

          Argued November 26, 2018

         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 London, Juvenile Matters at Waterford, where the case was tried to the court, Driscoll, J.; judgment terminating the respondents' parental rights, from which the respondent mother appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Mary M., self-represented, the appellant (respondent mother).

          Sara N. Swallen, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were George Jepsen, former attorney general, and Benjamin Zivyon, assistant attorney general, for the appellee (petitioner).

          Jean Park, for the minor child.

          Prescott, Elgo and Bear, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The self-represented respondent mother appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating her parental rights as to Angelina M., her minor child.[1] She contends that the court improperly concluded that (1) she failed to achieve the requisite degree of personal rehabilitation required by General Statutes § 17a-112 and (2) termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of the child.[2] We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         To prevail on a nonconsensual termination of parental rights, the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, one of the seven statutory grounds for termination. See General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3). In the present case, the petitioner principally alleged, and the court ultimately concluded, that the respondent failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation pursuant to § 17a-112 (j) (3) (B).[3] On appeal, that ultimate conclusion presents a question of evidentiary sufficiency. See In re Shane M., 318 Conn. 569, 587-88, 122 A.3d 1247 (2015). On our careful review of the record, construing the evidence submitted at trial in a manner most favorable to sustaining the judgment; see id., 588; we conclude that the cumulative effect of that evidence was sufficient to justify the court's determination that the respondent had failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation that would encourage the belief that, within a reasonable time frame, she could assume a responsible position in the life of the child.

         We further conclude that the court's finding that termination of the respondent's parental rights was in the best interest of the child is not clearly erroneous. See In re Brayden E.-H., 309 Conn. 642, 657, 72 A.3d 1083 (2013). The court expressly considered and made specific findings with respect to each of the seven factors delineated in § 17a-112 (k). Of particular significance, the court found that Angelina ‘‘has no attachment'' to the respondent and ‘‘is attached fully with her foster parents, '' that the respondent had not made an ‘‘effective effort to improve [her] rehabilitative circumstances, '' that ‘‘ongoing contact [with the respondent] would be detrimental to and confusing to the child, '' and that the respondent cannot provide ‘‘a permanent, nurturing, emotionally and physically supportive and stable home'' to Angelina. Those findings are substantiated by evidence in the record before us, including the testimony of the respondent's individual therapist, Trinette Conover, the respondent's ‘‘parenting education/supervised visitation provider, '' Sarah Laisi Lavoie, and Kelly Rogers, an expert in clinical and forensic psychology. Because there is ample supporting evidence in the record, and this court is not left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made; see In re Elijah G.-R., 167 Conn.App. 1, 29-30, 142 A.3d 482 (2016); the court's finding that termination of the respondent's parental rights was in the best interest of the child is not clearly erroneous.

         The judgment is affirmed.

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