In the Matter of: B.R., S.H., Appellant. In the Matter of: J.R., S.H., Appellant.
APPEALS from the Franklin County (C.P.C. Nos. 17JU-2246,
16JU-10687) Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic
Relations, Juvenile Branch
J. Pomerants, for appellant S.H.
D. Wolfe, for appellee Franklin County Children Services.
Waldeck, Guardian ad litem.
1} In this consolidated appeal, appellant S.H.
appeals the November 13, 2018 decision and judgment entry
from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of
Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch, terminating her parental
rights and granting permanent custody of J.R. and B.R. to
Franklin County Children Services ("FCCS").
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2} Appellant S.H. is the children's biological
mother. C.R. is their biological father. Together S.H. and
C.R. have had five children. C.R. has at least two other
children; one is in the custody of FCCS, and the other has
been adopted. The couple's oldest three children, born in
2012, 2013, and 2014, are in the custody of their paternal
grandmother. The two youngest children, J.R. and B.R., are
the subject of these proceedings.
3} J.R. was born on December 17, 2015. He was born
prematurely at 29 weeks gestation and required extensive
hospitalization. S.H. did not receive any prenatal care
during her pregnancy. J.R. tested positive for Oxycodone and
benzodiazepines at birth. S.H. admitted to using illicit
drugs throughout her pregnancy.
4} FCCS received an emergency custody order for J.R.
before he was released from the hospital on March 23, 2016.
FCCS received a temporary order of custody for J.R. on March
24, 2016 and again on June 15, 2017. He has been in the
custody of FCCS since he was released from the hospital.
5} FCCS filed a complaint alleging J.R. to be
abused, neglected, and dependent on September 7, 2016. Both
S.H. and C.R. appeared at the adjudicatory hearing on the
complaint on October 21, 2016. At the conclusion of that
hearing, the court found J.R. to be an abused child pursuant
to R.C. 2151.031(C). It continued the temporary custody
6} Neither parent appeared for the dispositional
hearing on December 5, 2016. The court ordered temporary
court commitment of J.R. to FCCS and adopted Case Plan No. 2.
7} On March 27, 2017, the court extended the
temporary order of custody and the case plan. On June 14,
2017, it adopted amended Case Plan No. 2.01.
8} FCCS filed its motion seeking permanent custody
of J.R. on August 23, 2017.
9} B.R. was born February 12, 2017. At the time of
her birth, she tested positive for Percocet and opiates. S.H.
did not receive any prenatal care during her pregnancy with
B.R. and admitted to using illicit drugs during the
10} FCCS filed a complaint on February 21, 2017,
alleging B.R. to be abused, neglected, and dependent. On that
same date, prior to her release from the hospital, FCCS
received emergency custody of B.R. On February 22, 2017, FCCS
received temporary custody of B.R. B.R. has been in the
custody of FCCS since she was released from the hospital
following her birth.
11} Neither parent appeared for the adjudicatory
hearing on April 24, 2017. The court declared B.R. to be an
abused child, pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(C), a neglected
child, pursuant to R.C. 2151.03(A)(2), and a dependent child,
pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C). The court then proceeded to the
dispositional hearing, after which it issued a temporary
court commitment of B.R. to FCCS and adopted Case Plan No.
12} FCCS filed its motion seeking permanent custody
of B.R. on January 23, 2018.
Permanent Custody Hearing
13} The permanent custody hearing for both children
was held on October 15, 2018. Both S.H. and C.R. had
contested the motions for permanent custody, but only S.H.
appeared, with counsel, at the hearing. Counsel had been
appointed to represent C.R. as to the motion for permanent
custody for J.R. The children's guardian ad litem
("GAL") also appeared for the hearing, as did
counsel for FCCS and the assigned FCCS caseworker.
14} Three witnesses testified at the hearing: S.H.,
the GAL, and the FCCS caseworker.
15} S.H. testified that she was an addict for four
years and that both children tested positive for drugs at the
time of their birth because of her addiction. (Oct. 15, 2018
Tr. at 24-25.) S.H. admitted to actively using drugs when she
was pregnant with J.R. and B.R. (Id. at 27.) She
testified that she was incarcerated from April 4, 2017 until
November 30, 2017 because she violated a condition of her
probation by testing positive for illegal substances.
(Id. at 22.) S.H. testified that she is no longer an
addict. (Id. at 30-31.)
16} S.H. represented to the court that she finished
her whole case plan, but she had difficulty doing the
American Court Services ("ACS") drug screens and
making visits with her children because of her work schedule.
(Id. at 28-29.) She goes to meetings for her
previous drug use but she stated that she does not need to
and does not need further treatment. (Id. at 31.)
S.H. admitted that she only completed one drug screen through
ACS, which was positive. (Id. at 35-36.) She failed
to complete approximately 60 drug screens that were required
by the court and the case plan. (Id. at 36.) Because
S.H. is on probation, however, she is screened as a part of
that process and represented that she has had over 60
negative urine tests through probation since her release from
jail in November 2017. (Id. at 81-82.)
17} As to the parenting class portion of the case
plan, S.H. testified that she completed an online course but
could not recall what she learned in that course.
(Id. at 43-44, 60.) She did some parenting
programming while she was incarcerated. (Id. at 58.)
This programming included a nutrition class, anger management
classes, drug treatment programs, and academic classes to
help S.H. get her G.E.D. (Id. at 71-75.) She
admitted that she never completed an alcohol and drug
("AOD") assessment. (Id. at 60.)
18} S.H. was offered weekly visits with her
children. (Id. at 46.) She missed many visits due to
her addiction, though. (Id. at 46.) She did not
attend any visits from September 2016 until her incarceration
in April 2017. (Id. at 49-50.) She visited with the
children approximately 14 times from January 2018 through
April 2018. (Id. at 95-96.) She did not attend any
visits from May 10, 2018 until August 2018. (Id. at
49, 97-98.) S.H. gave various reasons for missing visits: her
addiction, failings by the caseworker, S.H.'s bronchitis,
and work obligations. (Id. at 53.) At the time of
the hearing, S.H. had not attended any visits for over one
and one-half months. (Id. at 66-67.) S.H. testified
that she would "set up daycare or, you know, have a
babysitter or something" for the children while she
worked if they were returned to her custody. (Id. at
78.) She believes her children are very bonded to her.
(Id. at 89.) As for the children's father, C.R.,
S.H. testified that he is still battling a drug addiction.
(Id. at 92.)
19} Ava Nelson, the caseworker assigned to the
cases, testified regarding the requirements of the case plan
for reunification. It required the parents to complete drug
and alcohol assessments, complete drug screens, take
medication as prescribed, complete any other requested
assessments, and complete parenting mentoring. (Id.
at 120.) Visitation was also a part of the case plan. Nelson
testified that S.H. completed AOD treatment when she was
incarcerated. (Id. at 122.) Nelson tried but was
unable to determine whether there was an actual AOD
assessment. She could only confirm that S.H. completed ...