December 21, 2017
In re: Damian G., et al
178 Conn. App. 220 (2017)
The respondent mother appealed to this court from the judgments of the trial court terminating her parental rights with respect to her minor sons, D and J.
- The trial court’s finding that the respondent mother had failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that, at some future date, she could assume a responsible position in the lives of her children was not clearly erroneous: that court reasonably could have found from the evidence that the mother had not gained insight regarding issues of domestic violence given the evidence concerning the mother’s relationship with the children’s father, which was marked by a history of serious domestic violence, and her failure to recognize the dangers that his violent, criminal history posed to her and her children, the evidence in the record supported the court’s findings that it was not clear whether the mother had, or could maintain, adequate or sufficient income, that she had failed to obtain adequate housing on a timely basis, and that it was unclear whether the mother, who had a lengthy history of being unable consistently to maintain housing and income, would be able to maintain a newly leased apartment for her children, and there was an ample evidentiary basis to support the court’s finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother’s level of rehabilitation fell short and that the children’s need for permanency and stability ultimately should prevail; moreover, the trial court’s finding that J had difficulty with transitions was not contrary to the evidence, and although the evidence reflected a finding that the mother may have rehabilitated to some extent during the course of her involvement with the Department of Children and Families since 2012, the evidence supported the trial court’s finding that the extent of the deficiencies that continued to exist at the time of trial reflected that the mother was unable to benefit from continued parenting education; furthermore, even if the trial court erred in its interpretation of a report used to assess the mother’s insights into issues of domestic violence, the isolated error did not undermine the court’s findings as a whole, as the court made many findings that were relevant to an assessment of the mother’s ability to parent her children, including findings related to the mother’s history of substance abuse, her criminal behavior that directly impacted her ability to be a parent, her poor judgment as reflected in her unstable and, at times, violent relationship with the children’s father, her history of failing to provide her children, both of whom had special needs, with an adequate home or care, and her lack of the most basic parenting skills, even with the benefit of parenting counseling, and the mother did not demonstrate that any of those findings lacked support in the evidence.
- The respondent mother could not prevail on her claim that because several of the trial court’s subordinate factual findings in the dispositional phase of the proceeding were clearly erroneous, the court’s finding that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children could not stand: contrary to the mother’s claim, the court did not state that there was evidence that the children had regressed upon returning to the mother’s care, but stated its belief that, if the children were reunited with the mother, they would regress and the mother would become overwhelmed, would not meet their needs adequately, and would not provide them with the consistent stability that their unique developmental challenges required, and those findings were supported by evidence in the record from which the court reasonably could have inferred that reunification with the mother likely would have caused the children to regress in terms of their emotional and developmental progress; moreover, the mother’s challenge to the court’s findings that she was unable to maintain adequate housing or income, or to absorb insights from her parenting education or from her domestic violence counseling was unavailing, this court having rejected the mother’s claims with respect to the same findings in the adjudicatory phase, and given the mother’s failure to demonstrate that any of the trial court’s factual findings were clearly erroneous, this court was not left with the definite and firm conviction that the trial court’s finding that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children should be disturbed.