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In re B.R.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

May 31, 2019

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

         On brief:

          Alex J. Pomerants, for appellant S.H.

          Carrie D. Wolfe, for appellee Franklin County Children Services.

          Thomas Waldeck, Guardian ad litem.

          DECISION

          BEATTY BLUNT, J.

         {¶ 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").

         I. 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.

         A. J.R.

         {¶ 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 order.

         {¶ 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.

         B. B.R.

         {¶ 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 pregnancy.

         {¶ 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. 2.02.

         {¶ 12} FCCS filed its motion seeking permanent custody of B.R. on January 23, 2018.

         C. 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 ...


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