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In re Lierre J.M. (Anonymous)

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

May 17, 2017

In the Matter of Lierre J. M. (Anonymous), also known as Jane Lierre M. (Anonymous), also known as Jane M. (Anonymous). New York Foundling Hospital, respondent; Melissa L. D. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 1) In the Matter of Courageous J. M. (Anonymous), also known as Courageous M. (Anonymous). New York Foundling Hospital, respondent; Melissa L. D. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 2) In the Matter of Christina A. R. (Anonymous), also known as Christina R. (Anonymous). New York Foundling Hospital, respondent; Melissa L. D. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 3) Docket Nos. B-3554-14, B-3555-14, B-3558-14

          Anthony DeGuerre, Staten Island, NY, for appellant.

          Daniel Gartenstein, Long Island City, NY, for respondent.

          Seymour W. James, Jr., New York, NY (Tamara A. Steckler and Susan Clement of counsel), attorney for the children.

          RUTH C. BALKIN, J.P., L. PRISCILLA HALL, SANDRA L. SGROI, BETSY BARROS, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeals by the mother from three orders of fact-finding and disposition (one as to each child) of the Family Court, Richmond County (Arnold J. Lim, J.), all entered March 7, 2016. The orders, insofar as appealed from, after fact-finding and dispositional hearings, found that the mother permanently neglected the subject children, terminated her parental rights, and transferred custody and guardianship of the children to the Commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services of the City of New York and New York Foundling Hospital for the purpose of adoption.

         ORDERED that the orders of fact-finding and disposition are affirmed insofar as appealed from, without costs or disbursements.

         The petitioner commenced these proceedings to terminate the mother's parental rights to the subject children on the ground of permanent neglect. After fact-finding and dispositional hearings, the Family Court found that the mother had permanently neglected the children, terminated her parental rights, and transferred custody and guardianship of the children to the petitioner and the Commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services of the City of New York for the purpose of adoption. The mother appeals.

         "To establish that a parent has permanently neglected a child, an agency must establish by clear and convincing evidence that, for a period of one year following the child's placement with the agency, the parent failed to maintain contact with the child or, alternatively, failed to plan for the future of the child, although physically and financially able to do so, notwithstanding the agency's diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parent-child relationship" (Matter of Karina J.M. [Carmen Enid G.], 145 A.D.3d 893, 894; see Social Services Law § 384-b[4][d], [7][a]; Matter of Star Leslie W., 63 N.Y.2d 136, 142). Contrary to the mother's contention, the Family Court properly found that the petitioner established by clear and convincing evidence that it made diligent efforts to assist the mother in maintaining contact with the children and planning for the children's future, including facilitating visitation, repeatedly providing the mother with referrals for drug treatment programs and mental health evaluations, and advising the mother of her need to attend and complete such programs and of the consequences of her failure to do so (see Matter of Destiny A.K. [Barbara M.], 147 A.D.3d 758, 759; Matter of Angel M.R.J. [Rachel R.], 124 A.D.3d 657, 658; Matter of Kaydance H.G. [Carmen M.], 122 A.D.3d 630, 631; Matter of Dianelys T.W. [Malik W.], 121 A.D.3d 801, 801-802; Matter of Melisha M.H. [Sheila B.R.], 119 A.D.3d 788; Matter of Jaquan Tieran B. [Latoya B.], 105 A.D.3d 498; Matter of Todd Andre D. [Kenyatta L.], 88 A.D.3d 876; Matter of Racquel Olivia M., 37 A.D.3d 279, 280). The court also properly found that, despite the petitioner's efforts, the mother failed to consistently maintain contact with the children or adequately plan for the children's future (see Matter of Hector V.P. [Mariana V.], 146 A.D.3d 889, 890; Matter of Melisha M.H. [Sheila B.R.], 119 A.D.3d at 788; Matter of Elasia A.D.B. [Crystal D.G.], 118 A.D.3d 778, 779). The mother's belated partial compliance with the service plan was insufficient to preclude a finding of permanent neglect (see Matter of Elasia A.D.B. [Crystal D.G.], 118 A.D.3d at 779; Matter of Tarmara F.J. [Jaineen J.], 108 A.D.3d 543, 544). Accordingly, the court properly found that the mother permanently neglected the children.

         The Family Court providently exercised its discretion in declining to conduct an in camera interview with the child Christina (see Social Services Law § 384-b[3][k]; Matter of Alysa R.S. [Marie R.S.], 141 A.D.3d 532, 533; Matter of Samuel DD. [Margaret DD.],123 A.D.3d 1159, 1163; Matter of Georges P. [Yvelisse A.],103 A.D.3d ...


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