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In re Isis M.

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

February 11, 2014

In re Isis M., and Others, Children Under the Age of Eighteen Years, etc.,
v.
Deeanna C., Respondent-Appellant, and Heartshare Human Services, Petitioner-Respondent.

Andrew J. Baer, New York, for appellant.

Wingate, Kearney & Cullen LLP, Brooklyn (Allyson L. Stein of counsel), for respondent.

Tamara A. Steckler, The Legal Aid Society, New York (Nicole Barnum of counsel), attorney for the children.

Mazzarelli, J.P., Friedman, Renwick, DeGrasse, Gische, JJ.

Orders of fact-finding and disposition, Family Court, New York County (Susan K. Knipps, J.), entered on or about February 5, 2013, which, upon a finding that respondent mother permanently neglected the subject children, terminated respondent's parental rights, and committed the custody of the children to the Commissioner of Social Services and petitioner agency for purposes of adoption, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

Clear and convincing evidence supports the court's findings that, despite the agency's diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship with the three children, respondent failed to maintain contact with or plan for the future of the children (see Social Services Law § 384-b[7][a]). The agency explained the importance of visitation, encouraged respondent to visit, and facilitated visitation; yet respondent failed to attend approximately one-half of the scheduled visits and offered insubstantial excuses for her failure (see Matter of Paul Antoine Devontae R. [Paul R.], 78 A.D.3d 610 [1st Dept 2010], lv denied 16 N.Y.3d 707 [2011]; Matter of Emily A., 216 A.D.2d 124 [1st Dept 1995]). Respondent's sporadic and inconsistent visitation, as well as her inattention to the children observed during at least one visit, prevented her from developing close relationships with the children (see Matter of Jonathan M., 19 A.D.3d 197 [1st Dept 2005], lv denied 5 N.Y.3d 798 [2005]).

The agency referred respondent to an appropriate parenting class and, among other things, kept her informed of medical appointments for the twin boys, who have special needs (see Matter of Damon Bruce W. [Yvonne M.G.], 81 A.D.3d 552 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 17 N.Y.3d 701 [2011]). Although respondent completed the parenting course, she failed to attend the twins' scheduled medical appointments, and demonstrated a lack of understanding and insight into the twins' diagnoses, medications and medical treatment (see Matter of Nahia M., 39 A.D.3d 918 [3d Dept 2007]; Matter of Lenny R., 22 A.D.3d 240 [1st Dept 2005], lv denied 6 N.Y.3d 708 [2006]).

A preponderance of the evidence supports the court's determination that the termination of respondent's parental rights, rather than a suspended judgment, is in the children's best interests (see generally Matter of Star Leslie W., 63 N.Y.2d 136, 147-148 [1984]). For most of their lives, the children have lived with foster families, who have appropriately provided for their needs, including the twins' special needs, and with whom the children have developed strong relationships (see Matter of Isiah Steven A. [Anne Elizabeth Pierre L.], 100 A.D.3d 559 [1st Dept 2012], lv denied 20 N.Y.3d 859 [2013]; Matter of Lenny R., 22 A.D.3d at 240).


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