In re Trevon G.

Connecticut Appellate Court

August 19, 2008


Termination of Parental Rights/Failure to Rehabilitate/Best Interests.

In this termination of parental rights case, the appellate court denied the mother’s claim that the trial court improperly concluded that she failed to rehabilitate, that the department has failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with her children and that termination served the best interests of her children.

The mother, afflicted with substance dependency and mental illness, claimed that the court erroneously concluded that she failed to rehabilitate in light of the fact that she complied with substance abuse treatment in 2004 and 2005, enrolled the children in therapy and was willing to work with intensive reunification service programs. The appellate court noted the ample evidence in the record that the mother did not sustain her rehabilitative efforts, and that she continued to lack employment, income, and housing. She refused anger management services, and continued a pattern of arrest and incarceration.

Additionally, the court appointed evaluator opined that she “was a poor prospect for rehabilitation.” The appellate court reiterated its previous holding that even substantial compliance with rehabilitative programs will not prevent a court from terminating parental rights. See In re Coby C., 107 Conn. App. 395 (2008). Additionally, the mother claimed that the department failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her as required by C.G.S. § 17a-112(j) because the department did not provide the mother with mental health diagnosis, treatment goals or specific therapeutic recommendations. The court rejected the mother’s argument, emphasizing that the state is not required to make all efforts, but only reasonable efforts to reunify a family. The court pointed to the department’s reunification efforts, implementation of reunification support services and the mother’s incarceration during this period, as evidence that the department’s efforts regarding reunification were reasonable.

Finally, the appellate court rejected the mother’s argument that termination was not in the best interests of her children. The appellate court observed that the mother’s son Trevon “harbored hopes of reunification” but concluded that it was proper for the trial court to credit the testimony of the court appointed evaluator that Trevon was bonded to his foster father and did not have a strong bond with his mother. The evaluator also determined that while another child would experience a significant hardship if she were not to see the mother at all, this hardship could be overcome in time. Additionally, the social workers testified at trial that the foster parents for all three children were willing to adopt. The appellate court emphasized the long held principle that even the existence of emotional ties between a parent and her children will not necessarily prevent termination of parental rights. The appellate court concluded that evidence was sufficient to support the trial court’s best interests conclusion and that the court made the appropriate requisite findings as required by C.G.S. § 17a-112.

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