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In re J.R.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

August 30, 2019

IN RE: J.R.

          Appeal From Hamilton County Juvenile Court TRIAL NO. F15-2293X

         Judgment 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.,

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jonathan Halvonik, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services.

          OPINION

          MYERS, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶1} 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.

         1. Factual and Procedural Background

         {¶2} J.R. was born on June 1, 2015. He suffers from a genetic disorder known as Noonan Syndrome, [1] 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.

         {¶3} 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.

         {¶4} 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.

         {¶5} 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.

         {¶6} 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.

         {¶7} 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 ...


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