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In re B.N.C.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

February 26, 2014

In the Matter of B. N. C., II, a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
N. B., aka N. B.-C., Appellant. In the Matter of D. B.-E., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
N. B., aka N. B.-C., Appellant. In the Matter of M. B.-C., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
N. B., aka N. B.-C., Appellant. In the Matter of J. B., aka J. M., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
N. B., aka N. B.-C., Appellant. In the Matter of L. B.-M., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
N. B.-C., aka N. B.-C., Appellant

Argued and Submitted: November 21, 2013.

Multnomah County Circuit Court. 2010803671, Petition Number 109611M. Multnomah County Circuit Court. 2010803672, Petition Number 109521. Multnomah County Circuit Court. 2010803673, Petition Number 109611M. Multnomah County Circuit Court. 2010803674, Petition Number 109611M. Multnomah County Circuit Court. 2010803675, Petition Number 109530. Katherine E. Tennyson, Judge.

Megan L. Jacquot argued the cause and filed the brief for appellant.

Erin K. Galli, Senior Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General.

Before Duncan, Presiding Judge, and Wollheim, Judge, and Schuman, Senior Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 480

[261 Or.App. 469] SCHUMAN, S. J.

The juvenile court has taken jurisdiction over mother's five children, B, M, J, D, and L, ages 9, 7, 6, 3, and seven months, pursuant to ORS 419B.100, based on allegations relating to mother's mental health and a diagnosis of " medical child abuse," and has ordered mother to undergo a psychological examination. Mother appeals, seeking a termination of the wardship as to four of the children (M, J, D, and L), and we affirm.

At the time of the hearing, three of the children, B, M, and J, were already wards of the court (and in foster care with their maternal grandmother) by virtue of a jurisdictional judgment entered in June 2010, based on the allegation, to which mother had stipulated, that mother's mental health interfered with her ability to safely parent the children. D, a son age six at the time of the hearing, had been sent in 2010 to live with his father in Washington, and the 2010 jurisdictional petition as to D was never adjudicated.

Mother participated in significant counseling and therapy and, in July 2012, on the recommendation of DHS, M and J were returned to mother from foster care. Also at around that same time--July 19, 2012--L was born. In the meantime, D's situation in Washington with his father had deteriorated. As a result, Washington officials, in August 2012, ordered that D be returned to mother. Thus, in a short period of time, mother suddenly had physical custody of four of her children. By that time, DHS had become concerned that L was not gaining sufficient weight, but left L in mother's care under a " safety plan" that required mother to maintain constant contact with service providers and keep L's schedule as simple and consistent as possible. Mother complied with the plan, but when L had failed to regain her birth weight by the age of one month, the child's primary care physician referred the case to Dr. Leonhardt, a pediatrician and child abuse specialist from CARES Northwest. Leonhardt diagnosed L as suffering from medical child abuse. He testified that " medical child abuse," a diagnosis adopted relatively recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics, describes a form of child abuse in which " a parent or care taker fabricates or makes up symptoms or produces [261 Or.App. 470] symptoms in a child that get the child unnecessary medical care." The child receives medical care because a health care provider is reacting to falsified symptoms or real symptoms that may have been produced or created. Leonhardt testified at the hearing that caretakers of children who are diagnosed with medical child abuse often have significant mental illness themselves. Leonhardt had previously diagnosed each of mother's four older children with medical child abuse and was of the opinion that mother presented a risk of medical child abuse to all of the children. All of the children were removed from mother's care.

On October 11, 2012, the state filed new petitions as to B, M, and J, with two additional allegations: (1) Mother, having participated in services, has been unable to ameliorate the issues that had interfered with her ability to parent her children; and (2) L had been diagnosed as a victim of medical child abuse by mother, placing B, M, and J at risk of harm. At the hearing, the court also had before it a jurisdictional petition as to L, filed October 17, 2012, and a petition as to D, filed that same date. The operative allegations in the petitions relating to L and D are identical to the allegations with respect to B, M, and J.

The juvenile court found the allegations to be true. It made the following findings:

" This case is notable for the peculiar junction at which the present dispute arose. This case does not involve a parent or children 'new' to the juvenile system. In essence, Mother had been actively working services to address the issues raised by the initial removal of some of her children from ...

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