In re Alejandro L.

Connecticut Appellate Court

1 Conn. App. 248 (2005)

September 6, 2005


The appellate court affirmed the termination of the appellant mother’s four children where substance abuse appeared to be the single most devastating factor contributing to the termination. The events that resulted in termination began in March 2001, when the youngest child was born five weeks premature and tested positive for the presence of cocaine. The mother failed to complete two admissions to an outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment program, and in May 2001, the mother twice left her children unattended in an automobile for lengthy periods, resulting, not surprisingly, in an order of temporary custody placing the children with the Department of Children and Families (“Department”). After three subsequent attempts and failures at rehabilitation, the Department successfully sought an order adjudicating all four of the children as neglected. The mother continued to struggle with substance abuse (failing to comply with numerous treatment regimens), and she was arrested on a burglary charge and convicted of criminal trespass which carried a sentence of eighteen months of probation (conditioned upon substance abuse counseling and treatment). By May 2002, the court committed all four children to the Department’s custody, and her struggles with cocaine continued to spiral out of control. Meanwhile, the four children (three oldest in one home, with the youngest in another) have all thrived in their foster care setting, and both sets of foster parents appeared ready and willing to adopt the four children. As a result, the Department moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights, and the trial court terminated those rights in May 2003, finding by clear and convincing evidence that the mother had failed to achieve a sufficient degree of rehabilitation, and that it was in the children’s best interest to do so.

In a brief section, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s findings, indicating that the evidence adduced at trial supported the overwhelming conclusion that the mother in this case repeatedly failed to attend and complete numerous substance abuse treatment programs, and that she repeatedly failed in her attempt to comply with or participate in counseling sessions designed to guide her along that path. In addition, the mother maintained a relationship with the children’s father despite the fact that her drug counselors had advised her to sever the relationship because he was “an impediment to her obtaining and maintaining sobriety.” In addition, her long-term history of drug abuse and failure to complete recovery programs left her children’s stability and welfare at risk – thereby necessitating removal and placement in a foster care setting. The need for permanency and stability carried the day – and the court agreed that it was in the best interest of the children to affirm the termination.

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