Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
IN RE L.K. A Minor Child [Appeal by T.C., Mother]
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Juvenile Division Case No. AD17916510
A. Anzelmo, for appellant
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Rachel Matgouranis, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, for appellee.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. BOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE
1} Appellant, T.C. ("mother"), appeals the
juvenile court's order granting the Cuyahoga County
Department of Children and Family Services
("CCDCFS") permanent custody of her minor child,
L.K. (d.o.b. 10/19/2017). She raises one assignment of error
for our review:
services failed to establish, by clear and convincing
evidence, that it should be given permanent custody of
2} Finding no merit to her assignment of error, we
affirm. I. Procedural History and Factual
3} On October 31, 2017, CCDCFS filed a complaint
alleging that L.K. was abused and neglected and requesting
temporary custody of L.K. based upon his parents'
substance-abuse problems. The complaint stated that at
L.K.'s birth, mother and L.K. tested positive for
cocaine. CCDCFS alleged that mother had a substance-abuse
problem with cocaine and heroin, failed to maintain sobriety,
and was currently on probation for theft and unauthorized use
of property. The complaint also stated that L.K's father,
W.K ("father"), "has a substance abuse
problem, specifically heroin," "has not
participated in treatment and has failed to maintain his
sobriety[, ]" and has "a pending charge" for
drug abuse and obstructing official business in Rocky River
4} In addition to its complaint, CCDCFS also moved
for emergency pre-dispositional temporary custody, which the
magistrate granted after a hearing.
5} In November 2017, the trial court appointed
Patricia Lanzy as L.K's guardian ad litem
6} On January 2, 2018, the GAL submitted her report,
Child is doing well [with paternal grandmother]. * * * Both
mother and father are residing with maternal aunt. Both
parents are on probation for separate theft charges. Mother
was in a substance abuse program through [Community
Assessment and Treatment Services ("CATS") Program]
but she has relapsed. The parents were court ordered to
submit to drug testing by urinalysis on November 20, 2017.
Mother complied with the court order. The tests [sic] results
stated mother tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl urine.
* * *
I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to contact the
parents. Mother's phone number is not working[.] * * *
The case plan has referred the parents to the Lakewood Collab
to help them obtain stable housing.
recommended that it was in L.K.'s best interests to grant
CCDCFS temporary custody.
7} On January 19, 2018, the magistrate adjudicated
L.K. as abused and neglected, and the trial court adopted the
8} On January 26, 2018, the magistrate awarded
temporary custody of L.K. to CCDCFS. The trial court
subsequently approved and adopted the magistrate's
9} On April 10, 2018, CCDCFS moved to amend
mother's case plan, which was approved by the magistrate
on April 24, 2018. The case plan stated that mother needed to
complete a drug and alcohol assessment to determine treatment
needs, follow the recommendations made by the drug assessor,
and submit to random drug screenings as requested. The plan
noted that mother reported "feelings of depression"
and stated that mother had to complete a mental health
assessment and follow the service provider's
recommendations. Finally, the plan stated that mother needed
stable housing and would have to follow the recommendations
"made by the neighborhood collaborative in order to
10} On May 24, 2018, CCDCFS filed its semi-annual
administrative review ("SAR"), which indicated that
"Mother has been in jail for the past month. She was
offered a drug treatment/diversion program. However, she
refused. She is due to be released on 5/28/18. She reports
that she is not [going] for treatment. She was arrested for
felony possession of fentanyl." It stated that mother
was "not active" in a mental health program and did
not have stable housing because mother's aunt kicked her
out. The review further said that L.K. had a strong bond with
paternal grandmother, mother refused to participate in
services, mother "has not expressed a true interest in
visiting [L.K.]," and mother did not ask about L.K.
during phone calls with CCDCFS.
11} On October 1, 2018, CCDCFS moved to modify
temporary custody to permanent custody.
12} On January 2, 2019, L.K's GAL submitted her
report and recommendation, which stated:
I have not been successful in communicating with the parents.
I have called the various phone numbers that have been given
to me by the case worker and paternal grandmother. I have
written and mailed letters to various addresses. The parents
have not responded. According to the [SAR], the parents are
homeless. They stay in motels and with friends. * * * Case
worker asked mother to submit a urine screen and hair sample
on October 1, 2018. Mother failed to comply. Mother and
father have made insufficient progress towards completing
case plan services. * * *
Both mother and father have made little progress in
maintaining sobriety. The parents do not visit the child on a
consistent basis. They have not obtained stable housing.
report noted that paternal grandmother has a strong bond with
L.K. and is willing and able to adopt L.K. and provide for
his care. It stated that it was in L.K.'s best interests
for the trial court to grant CCDCFS permanent custody.
13} On April 11, 2019, the magistrate held a hearing
on CCDCFS's motion, during which mother, her counsel,
father, his counsel, and L.K.'s GAL were present. At the
hearing, father stipulated to the allegations contained in
CCDCFS's motion to modify temporary custody to permanent
custody and to granting CCDCFS permanent custody, and the
trial court accepted his stipulation. Mother, through
counsel, orally opposed CCDCFS's motion to modify and
also moved to extend temporary custody.
14} The following evidence was then presented at the
hearing with respect to mother.
15} Paternal grandmother testified that at the time
of the hearing, L.K. was approximately one and a half years
old and had lived with her since he was released from the
hospital on October 23, 2017. She said L.K. was doing
"amazing," "thriving," and was
"where he should be." She said she and L.K. had a
very close bond as did L.K. and paternal grandmother's
boyfriend, who lived with them.
16} Paternal grandmother testified that L.K. was
diagnosed with asthma and that she was ensuring that all of
L.K's medical issues were being addressed.
17} Paternal grandmother said that visits with
L.K's parents used to take place at mother's
aunt's house. On November 23, 2017, however, an
"incident" occurred at the aunt's house, and
CCDCFS stopped the visits from occurring there. Subsequent to
that, CCDCFS moved the visits to paternal grandmother's
home. However, during a visit on January 28, 2018, mother
went into the bathroom and did not come back to the living
room for "quite some time." Paternal grandmother
stated that when father went to check on mother, he found
mother unresponsive and cyanotic Paternal grandmother
performed rescue breathing on mother until paramedics arrived
and took her to the hospital. Paternal grandmother stated
that at the hospital, mother spoke with a narcotics
detective, who asked mother if she would be agreeable to
going to a treatment center. Paternal grandmother said that
although mother agreed, mother left the hospital prior to
being placed somewhere.
18} Paternal grandmother testified that after those
incidents, however, "there was a long period of time
where there [were] no visits" because "mother
didn't contact the caseworker to set them up."
Paternal grandmother also stated that mother was arrested and
in jail from February 2018 until May 31, 2018. She said there
were not any visits between mother and L.K. from January 2018
until June 13, 2018, and after mother's visit with L.K.
in June 2018, mother did not see L.K. again until January
19} Paternal grandmother said since the beginning of
January 2019, mother has been more consistent with her visits
at paternal grandmother's house and at the Lakewood