Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
From Hamilton County Juvenile Court TRIAL NO. F15-2293X
Appealed From Is Affirmed
Christopher P. Kapsal, for Appellant Father,
Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and
Elizabeth Stringer, Assistant Public Defender, Guardian ad
Litem for J.R.,
T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jonathan
Halvonik, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee
Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services.
Appellant father appeals from the Hamilton County Juvenile
Court's judgment granting permanent custody of his son
J.R. to the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family
Services ("HCJFS"). In a single assignment of
error, father argues that the juvenile court abused its
discretion in finding that a grant of permanent custody was
in J.R.'s best interest. Finding father's argument to
be without merit, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
Factual and Procedural Background
J.R. was born on June 1, 2015. He suffers from a genetic
disorder known as Noonan Syndrome,  and shortly after J.R.'s
birth, a gastrointestinal tube ("G-tube") was
surgically inserted into his stomach because he had been
experiencing difficulty eating. On September 25, 2015, HCJFS
was granted an emergency order for custody of J.R. The agency
subsequently filed a complaint for temporary custody of J.R.
and two older siblings, alleging that J.R. had been admitted
to Children's Hospital approximately one week before the
complaint was filed, where doctors determined that he was
malnourished and suffered from environmental failure to
thrive. J.R. gained weight once admitted to the hospital.
J.R. was placed in a foster home, while his siblings remained
with mother under protective orders. On January 25, 2016,
J.R. and his siblings were adjudicated dependent. Following a
dispositional hearing, legal custody of J.R. was remanded to
mother on August 5, 2016, with orders of protective
supervision granted to HCJFS.
J.R. remained in mother's care until February 1, 2017,
when HCJFS was granted an interim order of custody after
filing an amended complaint for temporary custody. The
complaint alleged that J.R. was neglected and dependent, that
his weight had fluctuated since returning to mother's
care, and that HCJFS had concerns that mother was not
appropriately administering J.R.'s G-tube feedings.
On April 25, 2017, J.R. was adjudicated dependent and
neglected and was placed in the temporary custody of HCJFS.
And on November 6, 2017, HCJFS filed a motion to modify
temporary custody to permanent custody. Paternal grandmother
Rose Stephens filed a motion for legal custody of J.R.
A trial was held over the course of four days from July 2018
to December 2018 on HCJFS's motion to modify and
Stephens's petition for custody.
Mother testified on both the first and last days of the
permanent-custody trial. She acknowledged that eviction
papers had previously been filed against her, but testified
that she currently had secure housing and lived with her four
other children. Mother testified that J.R. has Noonan
Syndrome, which she described as a failure to thrive, and she
explained that he needs to supplement what he is unable to
eat by mouth with G-tube feedings. J.R. had multiple medical
appointments because ...