IN RE: S.S. H.S. A.S.
FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. DN 15-07-494, DN 15-05-282, DN
K. REED, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
S. CALLAHAN JUDGE.
Appellant, A.Z. ("Mother"), appeals from a judgment
of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, that terminated her parental rights to three of her
minor children and placed them in the permanent custody of
Summit County Children Services Board ("CSB"). This
Mother is the biological mother of eleven children, but only
her three youngest children are at issue in this appeal. The
children's father ("Father") did not appeal
from the trial court's judgment.
Mother gave birth to her oldest two children while she was a
teenager and, for reasons not clear from the record, those
children were placed in the legal custody of the maternal
grandmother many years ago. During September 2014, CSB opened
an involuntary case with the six children then in
Mother's custody because of the deplorable condition of
Mother's home, her history with children services
agencies in other counties, her inability to meet the
children's basic needs, and because she was living with
and exposing her children to Father and another man, both of
whom had been convicted of felony sex offenses. Although
Father was not the father of any of those children, he was
included on the case plan because he resided in the home with
Mother. During that case, Mother continued to reside with
Father and failed to work on the reunification requirements
of the case plan.
On April 1, 2015, Mother gave birth to S.S., H.S., and A.S.
at 32 weeks gestation. All three children required tube
feeding and were transferred to the neonatal intensive care
unit at Akron Children's Hospital. Because Mother was not
visiting the triplets regularly and had pending dependency
and neglect cases with CSB pertaining to the six older
children, S.S., H.S., and A.S. were removed from her custody
before they were released from the hospital.
Because A.S. was the smallest child and required more
extensive medical care, she remained in the hospital two
months longer than S.S. and H.S. CSB filed complaints to
remove each child from Mother's custody during May and
July 2015, when they were scheduled to be released from the
hospital. All three children were later adjudicated
dependent, placed in the temporary custody of CSB, and have
resided together in the same foster home throughout this
The case plan in this case required, among other things, that
Mother engage in parenting classes and mental health
counseling to address her multiple mental health diagnoses
and demonstrate an ability to meet her children's basic
and special needs. After their release from the hospital, the
children continued to require specialized medical care and
therapy throughout this case. A.S. has had difficulty
swallowing and required specialized feeding, the children
have other medical problems, and all three have developmental
delays. Although Mother was encouraged to attend their
medical and therapy appointments, she did not consistently do
so. During the first year of this case, Mother also failed to
consistently engage in counseling, obtain stable housing, or
work on other reunification requirements of the case plan.
During March 2017, while this case was still pending, the
juvenile cases involving six of Mother's older children
led to the termination of her parental rights to five of
them. The sixth child was placed in the legal custody of the
maternal grandmother, who already had custody of Mother's
two oldest children.
CSB had already moved for permanent custody of S.S., H.S.,
and A.S., but, after the trial court involuntarily terminated
Mother's parental rights to the five older siblings, CSB
amended the motion to add that ground. See R.C.
2151.414(E)(11) and (D)(1)(e). A dispositional hearing was
held before a visiting judge on the motions for permanent
custody and the parents' alternative requests for legal
custody of the children.
At the hearing, the parties agreed that, at the time CSB
filed its first motion for permanent custody during November
2016, S.S., H.S., and A.S. had been in the temporary custody
of CSB for at least 12 months of a consecutive 22-month
period. See R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(d). The only
contested issue at the hearing was whether it was in the best
interest of the children to be placed in the legal custody of
one or both parents or in the permanent custody of CSB.
After the hearing, but before the trial court issued a
dispositional decision, this Court affirmed the termination
of Mother's parental rights to five of her older
children. In re T.Z., 9th Dist. Summit No. 28595,
2017-Ohio-7592. Shortly afterward, the trial court issued its
judgment in this case, terminating parental rights and
granting permanent custody of S.S., H.S., and A.S. to ...