Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Licking
appeal from the Licking County Court of Common Pleas, Probate
Division, Case No. 2019-5030
Appellant C. JOSEPH MCCOY
Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon.
Craig R. Baldwin, J.
Appellant appeals the June 28, 2019 judgment entry of the
Licking County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division,
denying his petition for adoption and finding the adoption is
not in the best interest of the minor child.
& Procedural History
On March 29, 2019, appellant ST. filed a petition for the
adoption of K.M.T. K.M.T. was born on June 14, 2013 and is
the step-son of appellant. The petition alleges that the
consent of A.L., the child's father ("Father) is not
required because he has failed without justifiable cause to
provide more than de minimis contact with the minor for a
period of at least one year immediately preceding the filing
of the adoption petition. The minor's mother
("Mother), T.T., consents to the adoption.
The trial court held a bifurcated hearing on appellant's
petition on June 25, 2019. In the first portion of the
hearing, the trial court heard evidence on the issue of
whether Father's consent was necessary. In the second
portion of the hearing, the trial court heard evidence on
whether the adoption is in the best interest of the minor
Mother testified in the first portion of the hearing. She
stated she has not prevented Father from visiting with the
child and Father last had personal contact with the child in
December of 2015 when Father saw K.M.T. for Christmas when
she and her family were in town visiting from North Carolina.
Mother testified Father never provided the child with gifts
or money, Father never wrote the child, and the last
conversation Father had with the child was in 2015. Mother
married appellant on March 27, 2018. She and appellant live
with K.M.T., appellant and Mother's biological child, and
Mother's oldest child, who she co-parents with the
Mother testified Father has not done anything to have a
relationship with K.M.T. and if Father had made an effort to
have a relationship with K.M.T., she would not have done
anything to prevent it. In June of 2016, on K.M.T.'s
birthday, Father called Mother repeatedly and she was unable
to answer because she was at work. Mother has not changed her
phone number since 2014, Father knew the number, and both
Father and paternal grandmother previously contacted her via
that number. Mother did block Father on social media in 2015
because he tagged her in inappropriate things she did not
want her friends and employer to see. Mother supports the
Upon examination by the trial court, Mother testified K.M.T.
was conceived in Ohio, and then was born in North Carolina
after Mother left Ohio. Mother alleges Father was physically
abusive, but she did not file criminal charges against him.
Mother returned to Ohio in April of 2018. There is a child
support order for Father from Mecklenburg County in North
J.L., paternal grandmother, testified Mother either blocked
her number or did not answer multiple messages J.L. sent to
her about visiting with K.M.T. J.L. and Father attempted to
get Mother to send K.M.T. to them to visit, but Mother would
not do it after previously bringing K.M.T. to visit them.
J.L. and Father sent money to Mother for K.M.T. J.L. made
sure she sent the money to K.M.T. that Father gave her. J.L.
testified Mother used to come and visit them in Dayton
several times per year and bring K.M.T. to the house so J.L.
and Father could keep him for a few days. Mother did not
notify J.L. she moved back from North Carolina. J.L.
testified Mother blocked her and Father from K.M.T.
approximately a year ago and J.L. sent K.M.T. something every
year until he was five years old. J.L. believes Mother no
longer permitted contact between K.M.T. and herself or Father
because she wanted appellant to be K.M.T.'s Father. J.L.
stated Father is a great Father to his daughter, who lives
with her and Father. J.L. thinks Father loves K.M.T. and he
will be a good father to him.
On cross-examination, J.L. testified Father lives with her.
Father did not establish visitation rights because Mother
used to bring K.M.T. to visit when she visited from North
Carolina so he did not need to go to court. J.L. could not
remember when Father last had contact with K.M.T., but stated
she and Father could not reach or contact him after that
date. J.L. sent money to Mother's parents' address in
North Carolina. J.L. stated she and Father sent K.M.T. a big
box and a bike every year. J.L. did not know Mother moved
back to Ohio until the hearing. J.L. stated Father also
thought Mother was still in North Carolina because they
discussed on the drive to the hearing that they were not sure
why the hearing was in Ohio rather than North Carolina. J.L.
had contact with Mother after K.M.T. turned four until Mother
did not answer J.L.'s calls. J.L. could not remember the
dates she called Mother, but testified she called her several
times. Mother provided J.L. with an address in North Carolina
at which to send clothes and shoes in November of 2017. J.L.
does not remember if she texted Mother to obtain her new
Father testified he has tried to get in contact with K.M.T.
Father stated he has not tried since 2017 to contact K.M.T.
because he did not have a phone number for Mother and he
usually contacted her via Facebook messenger. Father
testified to one incident when he was supposed to go to North
Carolina and stay in a hotel to see K.M.T., but when the time
came around for him to go, Mother stopped messaging him and
would not reply to his calls or texts or messages through
Facebook. Father described Facebook messenger messages he
sent to ...