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In re V. R. Alleged

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Guernsey

May 11, 2017


         Appeal from the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 15JC00543

          For Plaintiff-Appellee: MELISSA M. WILSON GUERNSEY CO. CHILDREN'S SERV.

          For Defendant-Appellant: RONALD C. COUCH MICHAEL GROH

          JUDGES: Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.


          Delaney, P.J.

         {¶1} Mother appeals from the November 30, 2016 Journal Entry of the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas granting appellee Guernsey County Children's Services' ("GCCS") motion for permanent custody of her two children, V.R. and G.R.


         {¶2} Mother and Father are married and have two minor children together: V.R. and G.R. GCCS began its involvement with this family in January 2015 and opened a second case in May 2015. Concerns reported to the agency included the children had insufficient diapers, wipes, and formula; the family missed important medical appointments; and both parents struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.

         {¶3} The agency provided case management services throughout the pendency of the case. Mother and Father were both referred for drug and alcohol treatment; an in-home safety plan went into effect on September 4, 2015 with a grandparent supervising; and the parents were given gas cards to enable them to get to doctor appointments.

         {¶4} The office manager of the children's pediatrician, Dr. Lall, testified at the permanent custody hearing. Dr. Lall was concerned especially with G.R., a child who failed to thrive. Mother continually reported G.R. was throwing up and wouldn't eat, but failed to follow through with weight-check appointments. Dr. Lall changed the formula but there was no positive weight gain. The doctor's office referred the family to Help Me Grow, but they did not follow through with appointments or allow agencies into the home for visits. (The office manager reported that agencies would knock on the door at the home and no one would answer the door, but Mother answered the phone when the doctor's office called).

         {¶5} When G.R. was fed in the doctor's office, he drank "like crazy, " as though he was starving. G.R. was admitted to Akron Children's Hospital at one point and started gaining weight while hospitalized. The parents were not cooperative in follow-up with the pediatrician or specialists. In 2015, the parents missed 18 appointments out of 28 scheduled. The parents argued with Dr. Lall about treatment but inconsistencies were apparent: the parents claimed specialists at Akron Children's Hospital gave recommendations that were proven to be false, and the family claimed WIC wouldn't give them milk when in fact WIC reported the milk was available but they never picked it up. On June 10, 2015, G.R. was nine months old but weighed only 13.8 pounds. The office manager reported G.R. was always below three percent on the growth chart of where he should be for his age.

         {¶6} The children came back to Dr. Lall after they were placed in foster care, and the office manager described the improvement as a "100-degree turn, " reporting both children as healthy and happy. G.R. is currently gaining weight and the foster parents do not miss appointments.

         {¶7} On September 25, 2015, GCCS was granted temporary custody of the children in an emergency proceeding. The grandparent refused to supervise the safety plan any longer because of drug abuse issues with both parents and their failure to comply with the safety plan. Father took V.R. to a bar and proceeded to overdose on heroin. Mother was believed to be high on methamphetamine because she was hallucinating and cutting the grass with a pair of scissors. On the day of the children's removal, Mother was at home alone with the children and V.R. was outside, clad only in a shirt, with no diaper, pants, socks, or shoes on.

         {¶8} On September 29, 2015, the trial court found probable cause to believe the children were dependent/neglected and continued the temporary custody of GCCS.

         {¶9} Both parents' visits with the children were highly erratic. Father had a total of 33 visits scheduled and attended 16. Mother had a total of 40 visits scheduled and attended 8. During visitation, Mother was observed to be more closely bonded with V.R. to the extent that she ignored G.R. as the child crawled at her feet and had to be told to pick him up and give him attention. Eventually the agency required Mother to call if she planned to show up for visitation so the agency could arrange for the foster parents to bring the children to prevent the children from attending visits Mother didn't show up for.

         {¶10} Mother did not appear at the adjudicatory hearing on December 1, 2015. Mother's counsel requested a continuance, which was denied. The trial court found the children to be dependent and continued the custody of GCCS.

         {¶11} Mother again failed to appear at the dispositional hearing on December 21, 2015; another continuance was requested and denied. Custody of the children remained with GCCS.

         {¶12} Mother again failed to appear for the review hearing on March 16, 2016; another continuance was requested and denied. Mother's last visit with the children was May 6, 2016 and she had no interaction with the agency after that. Mother failed to appear at another review hearing on June 13, 2016.

         {¶13} Father's last visit with the children was January 6, 2016. He was thereafter removed from the case plan because he was ...

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