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In re William M.

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

September 26, 2013

In re Kristian-Isaiah William M., and Another, Dependent Children Under Eighteen Years of Age, etc., and Jessenica Terri-Monica B., Respondent-Appellant, Jewish Child Care Agency, Petitioner-Respondent.

Law Offices of Randall S. Carmel, Syosset (Randall S. Carmel of counsel), for appellant.

Law Offices of James M. Abramson, PLLC, New York (Dawn M. Orsatti of counsel), for respondent.

Carol Kahn, New York, attorney for the children.

Sweeny, J.P., DeGrasse, Manzanet-Daniels, Clark, JJ.

Orders of disposition, Family Court, Bronx County (Monica Drinane, J.), entered on or about August 23, 2012, which, following a fact-finding determination that respondent mother had permanently neglected the subject children, and presently, and for the foreseeable future, is unable, by reason of mental illness, to provide proper and adequate care for them, terminated her parental rights, and committed custody and guardianship of the children to petitioner agency and the Commissioner of Social Services for the purpose of adoption, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

Clear and convincing evidence, including expert testimony from a court-appointed psychologist who examined the mother for several hours and reviewed her extensive medical history, supports the determination that she is presently and for the foreseeable future unable to provide adequate care for the children, due to mental illness (see Social Services Law § 384-b[4][c], [6][a]). The psychologist testified that the mother suffered from schizoaffective disorder, had been hospitalized numerous times for psychiatric conditions, abused alcohol and marijuana, had frequent violent altercations, and lacked insight into her condition (see Matter of Rosie Shameka S.R. [Tulip S.R.], 102 A.D.3d 480 [1st Dept 2013]). Although the mother had two younger children in her care, the psychologist stated that her mental illness was a chronic condition, characterized by periods of relative stability fluctuating with periods of instability. He also noted that the younger children had been in the mother's care, under court supervision, for a limited time period, and that the addition of the subject children to the household might cause the mother to decompensate.

The finding of permanent neglect is also supported by clear and convincing evidence (see Social Services Law § 384-b[7]). The record shows that the agency exerted diligent efforts by assisting the mother in her efforts to obtain suitable housing and referring her to various programs, but that the mother refused to consent to the disclosure of records from service providers, and refused all referrals and housing (see Matter of Sukwa Sincere G. [Shamiqua Latisha S.], 88 A.D.3d 592 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 21 N.Y.3d 853 [2013]).

A preponderance of the evidence supports the court's determination that it is in the best interests of the children to terminate the mother's parental rights, as she failed to show that she had made any progress in completing the service plan (see Matter of Star Leslie W., 63 N.Y.2d 136, 147-148 [1984]). Moreover, the children have been in a loving, supportive, stable home for most of their lives, and the foster mother wishes to adopt them. Under the circumstances, a suspended judgment is not warranted (see Matter of Sukwa Sincere G., 88 A.D.3d at 592).

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