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In re N.H.C.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

November 6, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF: N.H.C., A MINOR APPEAL OF: B.L.C., MOTHER Appellant IN RE: ADOPTION OF: N.H.C., A MINOR APPEAL OF: B.L.C., MOTHER Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Entered May 15, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of York County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-67-DP-000008-2011

Appeal from the Order Entered May 16, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of York County Orphans' Court at No(s): 2013-2009.

BEFORE: PANELLA, J., MUNDY, J., and MUSMANNO, J.

MEMORANDUM

MUNDY, J.

Appellant, B.L.C. (Mother) appeals from the May 15 and 16, 2013 orders[1] of the Court of Common Pleas of York County, terminating her parental rights to her son, N.H.C., born in February 2004, and changing the goal to adoption.[2] After careful review, we affirm.

The relevant factual and procedural history, as set forth in the trial court's findings of fact in support of its termination of parental rights and goal change orders, can be summarized as follows. See Trial Court Adjudication, 5/16/13, at 2-16. Mother placed N.H.C. outside the home voluntarily through the York-Adams Mental Health/Mental Retardation (MH/MR) agency in April of 2010. The York County Office of Children Youth and Families (CYF) filed a petition for dependency on February 14, 2011, when N.H.C.'s MH/MR medical assistance benefits expired. Mother was incarcerated in Adams County Prison when the trial court adjudicated N.H.C. dependent and awarded legal and physical custody to CYF, on March 2, 2011. At that time, Mother had not had any contact with N.H.C. in nearly a year.

Dr. Anthony Russo conducted a psychiatric evaluation of N.H.C. on March 6, 2011. Dr. Russo's diagnosis was Pervasive Developmental Disorder, NOS; Organic Mood Disorder; Intermittent Explosive Disorder; Conduct Disorder; Learning Disorder, NOS; Parent-Child Relationship Problems; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by History; and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Mood Disorder. Dr. Russo updated his diagnoses on four subsequent occasions over the course of eighteen months.

CYF established Mother's initial family service plan (FSP) on March 29, 2011. The objectives included: 1) cooperate with CYF by signing all necessary forms and notifying CYF of her release date and contact information; 2) work towards reunification with N.H.C. by maintaining mail contact with N.H.C., develop a support system of friends and family, and participate in a family group decision making conference upon her release; and, 3) complete parenting and mental health classes while incarcerated.

A status review hearing held on June 16, 2011, revealed that Mother remained at Adams County Prison, and that N.H.C. had completed second grade and enrolled in a summer program through the Lincoln Intermediate Unit.

At a permanency review hearing on August 16, 2011, Mother's appointed counsel reported an anticipated early release date for Mother of September of 2011, and that Mother had completed a relapse prevention program while incarcerated. N.H.C. had completed a partial hospitalization program and was participating in weekly equine and individual therapy. Prison authorities did not permit Mother to participate in these proceedings.

CYF added new objectives to the FSP on January 31, 2012; they were as follows. 1) meet N.H.C.'s mental health needs; 2) identify N.H.C.'s biological father; 3) participate in programs while incarcerated that will assist reunification; and, 4) provide CYF with the names of individuals who could be N.H.C.'s father.

Mother was released from prison in April 2012, and was residing at Atkins House, a halfway house. Subsequently, on July 3, 2012, CYF moved N.H.C. to a respite foster home at the request of his foster parents on July 3, 2012. A permanency review hearing was held on July 10, 2012, and revealed that Mother was seeking employment and continued in weekly counseling. She had attended two visits with N.H.C. and the visits had gone well. N.H.C. had completed the third grade and was attending the summer program at Paradise School for Boys. N.H.C. was engaging in aggressive behaviors in the foster home including threats against himself and others, breaking objects and cursing. N.H.C. continued in therapy.

On August 8, 2012, the Bureau of Corrections advised CYF that Mother had failed to comply with her terms of parole and that they had transferred her from her current halfway house to a program in Reading, Pennsylvania. Mother's violations included failing to show progress, failing to abide by house rules, engaging in a relationship with a male, failing to pay fines and costs, failing to actively seek or accept employment, and failing to develop a home plan.

CYF moved N.H.C. to another foster home on August 9, 2012, and from that home to yet another on August 22, 2012, after allegations that he had inappropriately touched the five-year-old daughter of the foster parent. Physical aggression continued to escalate between N.H.C. and a foster brother in the new foster home.

After he completed a psychiatric evaluation of N.H.C. on September 6, 2012, Dr. Russo recommended that CYF place N.H.C. in a residential facility. The trial court placed N.H.C. at Children's Home of York following a hearing on October 2, 2012, with the concurrence of Dr. Russo, CYF, N.H.C.'s guardian ad litem, N.H.C.'s educational advocate, and the court-appointed special advocate. Mother did not appear at the hearing in spite of assuring her caseworker that she would be there. ...


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