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Case Number: 22A-JT-393
Court: Court of Appeals of Indiana on appeal from the Superior Court, Allen County
Plaintiff's Attorney: A.W. Robert L. Renbarger
Description: Fort Wayne, Indiana family law lawyer represented Defendant sued by the State seeking termination of her parental rights.
[¶1] Parents A.W. ("Mother") and R.H. ("Father") appeal the trial court's termination of their parental rights over their minor daughter, T.H. ("Child"). Parents raise five combined issues for our review, which we consolidate and restate as the following two dispositive issues:
I. Whether the trial court's conclusion that the conditions that resulted in the removal of Child from Parents' care are not likely to be remedied is clearly erroneous.
II. Whether the trial court's conclusion that the termination of Parents' parental rights is in Child's best interests is clearly erroneous.
[¶2] We affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶3] On May 11, 2019, Mother gave birth to Child. That same day, Mother tested positive for cocaine. Child's cord blood also tested positive for cocaine. Father established his paternity by affidavit.
[¶4] The Indiana Department of Child Services ("DCS") filed a petition alleging Child to be a Child in Need of Services ("CHINS") based in part on Child having been born with cocaine in her blood. At an ensuing initial hearing on DCS's petition, Mother and Father both admitted to recent drug use and a history of domestic violence between them. The court adjudicated Child to be a CHINS, placed Child in foster care, and directed Parents to participate in
various services, including obtaining drug and alcohol assessments, following all recommendations from those assessments, refraining from further use of drugs and alcohol, and submitting to random drug screens.
[¶5] Over the next two-and-one-half years, Parents continued to use cocaine and marijuana, failed or refused to submit to multiple drug screens, failed to submit to or complete substance-abuse assessments, and failed to participate consistently in therapy. In late 2020, Mother gave birth to another child who was also born exposed to cocaine.
[¶6] In June 2021, DCS filed its petition to terminate the Parents' parental rights over Child. The court held a fact-finding hearing on DCS's petition in mid-November. Family Case Manager ("FCM") Rachel Amiot testified that Mother last relapsed with controlled substances in late October, just a few weeks before the fact-finding hearing. Mother was pregnant at the time of the fact-finding hearing. FCM Amiot likewise testified to Father's continued drug use and failure to successfully complete substance-abuse related services. FCM Amiot recommended that Parents' parental rights be terminated at least in part based on their substance-abuse issues. Child's guardian ad litem ("GAL"), Michael Harmeyer, also testified that he believed the termination of Parents' parental rights to be in Child's best interests based on their "chronic[,] continuing . . . addiction or use of illegal substances . . . ." Tr. Vol. 2, p. 175.
[¶7] The trial court terminated Parents' parental rights over Child. In its order, the court found extensive facts, which are unchallenged in this appeal. The court concluded in relevant part that the conditions that resulted in Child's removal from Parents' care were not likely to be remedied and that termination of the parental rights was in Child's best interests. This appeal ensued.
Outcome: "[¶19] For all of the above reasons, we affirm the trial court's termination of Mother's and Father's parental rights over Child.