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In re L.B.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 22, 2019

IN RE L.B. A Minor Child Appeal by Li.B., Mother

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case No. AD-18911292

         JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED

          R. Tadd Pinkston, for appellant.

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Anthony R. Beery, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          LARRY A. JONES, SR., J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant-Mother appeals the trial court's granting of permanent custody of L.B. to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS" or "agency"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} In 2018, CCDCFS filed a motion for permanent custody of L.B. The matter proceeded to a hearing, at which the following evidence was presented.

         {¶ 3} Mother is the mother of five children, including L.B.[1] Mother does not have custody of any of her children - three of her children are in the custody of paternal grandfather and the agency has permanent custody of the fourth child.

         {¶ 4} Mother is a habitual drug user with a drug history dating back to 2003. L.B. was born drug-dependent in 2016, the second of Mother's children to be born drug-dependent. After L.B. was born and went through withdrawal, Mother entered a treatment facility with L.B. Mother soon relapsed and was discharged from the treatment facility. The agency took emergency custody of L.B. in April 2016, when he was two months old. Mother's case plan included substance abuse and mental health treatment.

         {¶ 5} L.B. returned to his mother's care in May 2018, and the court granted protective supervision to the agency. Protective supervision remained in place until Mother completed a drug-court program through juvenile court. Approximately one month after Mother successfully completed her program, and less than a week after the agency terminated protective supervision, Mother relapsed on fentanyl, and the agency took emergency custody of L.B. and moved for permanent custody. At this time, L.B. had been in mother's care for approximately four months of his life.

         {¶ 6} When the agency moved for permanent custody in September 2018, the county also moved for predispositional temporary custody, but did not seek emergency custody of L.B. because Mother was living with a friend who could temporarily serve as a "sober support" to Mother and caregiver for L.B. The agency ultimately determined that Mother's friend could not take custody of L.B. because Mother resided in her friend's house and continued to use drugs. The agency also had concerns with regard to the friend's ability to care for L.B. long-term because the friend was the sole caregiver for his adult son, who had special needs.

         {¶ 7} Mother continued to use drugs and refused drug screens so the agency moved for emergency custody of L.B. The court granted the agency's motion and found that L.B. was a dependent child. At the time of the February 2019 permanent custody hearing, Mother openly admitted to her case worker that she continued to abuse heroin and fentanyl. Despite agency efforts, Mother was also not participating in case-plan services.

         {¶ 8} The case worker testified that Mother had completed substance abuse programs in the past, but relapsed. Mother visited with the child and those visits were appropriate. Mother was employed and had housing, but had to move if she wanted her child placed in that home.

         {¶ 9} The case worker testified that L.B. was with the same foster mother since being placed in agency custody, was doing well in the foster home and had no special needs, and the foster mother expressed an interest in adopting L.B.

         {¶ 10} L.B.'s guardian ad litem wrote a report recommending permanent custody to be in L.B.'s best interest. She testified at the hearing that her recommendation had not changed since she wrote the report.

         {¶ 11} The trial court granted the agency's motion and placed L.B. in the permanent custody of CCDCFS. This timely appeal followed.

         {¶ 12} Mother raises two assignments of ...


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