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In re A.B.

July 9, 2009

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., A CHILD
WANDA LARSON, DICKEY COUNTY DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES, PETITIONER AND APPELLEE
v.
A.H., MOTHER, RESPONDENT AND APPELLANT AND A.B., CHILD, AND UNKNOWN FATHER OF THE ABOVE-NAMED CHILD, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Juvenile Court of Dickey County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable Daniel D. Narum, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.

AFFIRMED.

[¶1] A.H. ("Amy")*fn1 appeals from a juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to her child, A.B. ("Allison"). We affirm, holding the juvenile court did not err in terminating her parental rights because the State proved by clear and convincing evidence that the deprivation of Allison was likely to continue, Allison would likely suffer harm without termination of Amy's parental rights, and reasonable efforts were made to reunify the family.

I.

[¶2] Allison was born on December 25, 2006. Her biological mother is Amy, and her biological father is unknown. Child Protection Services referred Allison to Dickey County Social Services in July 2007 for case management services stemming from concerns Allison was not receiving proper nutrition and was sleeping in a single bed at six months of age. Case management services began on July 25, 2007. A social worker for Social Services reported that Allison was not receiving proper nutrition, Amy was mixing Allison's formula incorrectly, giving her juice and pop, and feeding her unblended hot dogs, chicken, and sausage, although Allison did not have any teeth. The social worker noted concerns that Amy unreasonably expected Allison to understand the concept of "no," used a harsh tone with Allison, and berated Allison for crying.

[¶3] Amy informed a health care professional that Allison suffered a concussion when Amy set her on a sidewalk. She also disclosed to a social worker that she left Allison alone in the apartment when she went across the street to do laundry. Amy told a social worker that Allison woke up between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., Amy programmed the television to come on at that time so Allison could watch television, and Amy remained in bed while Allison was left unattended. Amy also informed a social worker that she had given birth to another child in Minnesota and later consented to the adoption of that child. Amy reported that her boyfriend had been in prison for burglary, had a history of using and selling drugs, and had threatened to shoot her first child. Amy admitted she had a history of violence with adult family members and had gone to jail for a physical altercation with her first child's aunt.

[¶4] A health care professional contacted Social Services on August 9, 2007, stating Allison's weight compared to length was at the 7.8 percentile on the growth chart and she was very thin for her height. On September 28, 2007, another health care professional reported Allison had not gained any weight in three and one-half weeks. The health care professional expressed concerns that Amy was feeding Allison fruit snacks and suckers instead of baby food.

[¶5] On October 1, 2007, Social Services received a report that Amy was leaving Allison alone in her apartment, not providing appropriate clothing for Allison, feeding her chicken and chips when she had no teeth, spanking her when she did not listen, and picking her up by the arms. On October 8, 2007, and October 15, 2007, case workers advised Amy that Allison's car seat should be rear-facing, but Amy did not comply with the case workers' requests to install Allison's car seat so it was rear-facing. On October 23, 2007, a health care professional informed Social Services that Amy would not accept advice pertaining to Allison's nutritional needs. The health care professional reported that Amy wanted to feed Allison puff corn and Cheez-Its rather than fruits and vegetables. A third party also expressed concerns that Allison was not being fed and that Amy gave Allison sports drinks, pop, chicken, and chips, although she had few, if any, teeth.

[¶6] On November 6, 2007, Social Services received a child protection report, expressing concerns that Allison was often underdressed for weather conditions, Amy referred to her as a brat, and Amy left Allison with an unsafe caregiver. Another child protection report was received on November 29, 2007, stating a third party had witnessed Amy hit Allison on the back of the head, putting her at serious risk of injury.

[¶7] The juvenile court issued a temporary custody order on November 29, 2007, and Allison was placed in foster care. The court held a deprivation hearing on January 29, 2008, and found Allison to be a deprived child.

[¶8] Amy was evaluated by a psychologist in January 2008. The psychologist concluded Amy's expectations exceeded the developmental capabilities of her child, her self-concept as a parent was likely to be easily threatened, and she may be demanding and controlling as a parent. He explained Amy was likely to place her own needs before those of others, had significant problems with authority, and was dependent on men. The psychologist also concluded:

[Amy] endorsed being attached to her daughter; however, the relationship is not a very close one. The daily demands and restrictions that parenthood places upon the personal freedom of parents appear to be readily accepted by this parent. [Amy] is lacking in confidence with regard to child developmental expectations and child management skills. Problems in consistency of approach to the child are likely to exist. The absence of a strong support system represents a major stressor for this parent. She endorsed feeling supported by and having a positive relationship with her partner.

Finally, [Amy] reported having experienced a number of life stressors from outside her parent-child relationship. The impact of these stressors may divert her attention from her parenting responsibilities. These factors are likely to add to her overall burden and may increase the likelihood of dysfunctional parenting.

The psychologist summarized, "Overall, the testing, clinical interview, and record review, provide data that suggests that many of [Amy's] parenting and interpersonal difficulties are associated with her inflexible and pervasive personality ...


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