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In re T. M. H.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 30, 2019

In the Matter of T. M. H., a Child.
v.
M. A. H., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent, In the Matter of A. K. H., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
M. A. H., Appellant. In the Matter of M. R. H., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
M. A. H., Appellant. In the Matter of A. K. H., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
M. A. H., Appellant.

          Argued and submitted May 15, 2018.

          [297 Or.App. 727] Clatsop County Circuit Court 16JU07456, 16JU07457, 16JU07458, 14JU03564, 14JU03565, 14JU03566, 15JU03660, 15JU03661, 15JU03662

          Valerie Colas, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs was Shannon Storey, Chief Defender, Juvenile Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Judy C. Lucas, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Powers, Judge. [*]

         [297 Or.App. 728] Case Summary: In this consolidated appeal, mother challenges judgments terminating her parental rights to her three children and the denial of her motion to terminate dependency jurisdiction as to the youngest child, A. Held: The Court of Appeals concluded that clear and convincing evidence established that mother had engaged in conduct and is characterized by conditions that remain seriously detrimental to all three children; that integration of the children into mother's home was improbable within a reasonable time due to conduct or conditions not likely to change; and that termination was in the best interests of each child.

          [297 Or.App. 729] ORTEGA, P. J.

         In this consolidated appeal, mother challenges judgments terminating her parental rights to her three children and the denial of her motion to terminate dependency jurisdiction as to the youngest child, A. We conclude that clear and convincing evidence establishes that mother has engaged in conduct and is characterized by conditions that remain seriously detrimental to all three children; that integration of the children into mother's home is improbable within a reasonable time due to conduct or conditions not likely to change; and that termination is in the best interests of each of the children. Accordingly, we affirm the juvenile court's judgments.

         By way of overview, the two older children, M (born in 2004) and T (born in 2005), are in foster care for the third time, and A (born in 2013) is in foster care for the second time. The children have been in their current foster placement, with their paternal grandparents, since November 2014, and we have addressed the family's long-running involvement with the Department of Human Services (DHS) on two prior occasions. See Dept. of Human Services v. M. J. H, 278 Or.App. 607, 609, 375 P.3d 579 (2016), rev den, 361 Or. 486 (2017) (vacating and remanding permanency judgments), and Dept. of Human Services v. M. A. H., 284 Or.App. 215, 218-19, 391 P.3d 985, rev den, 361 Or. 486 (2017) (concluding that DHS made reasonable efforts to address mother's mental health needs and affirming permanency judgments). In this appeal of the termination judgments, we review the facts de novo, ORS l9.4l5(3)(a), and we recount the facts only as necessary to give context to our ruling, beginning with a summary of the procedural history for context.

         I. FACTS

         Mother and father had a relationship characterized by domestic violence, substance abuse, and child neglect that resulted in the removal of M and T from their care in 2010 and removal of all three children in 2013. M. J. H, 278 Or.App. at 609. They were returned to parents' care for a second time in April or May of 2014. Id. In October of that [297 Or.App. 730] year, M contacted his aunt with concerns that mother was using drugs and, the following month, DHS again removed the children from mother's care and placed them in foster care with grandparents, where they have remained for the intervening years. Id. at 609-10.

         In January 2015, as a consequence of that last removal from mother's care, the juvenile court took jurisdiction "based on the risk of harm created by mother's criminal activities, lack of parenting skills, substance abuse, and her practice of leaving the children with unsafe care providers." M. A. H., 284 Or.App. 218-19. In June 2015, DHS filed new dependency petitions, additionally alleging that "mother has mental health issues that interfere with her ability to safely parent her children." Id. at 219. The cases were not consolidated and proceeded on separate tracks, resulting in termination judgments on one of the tracks in June 2016, id., while permanency judgments for the other cases were being appealed and were ultimately reversed. M. J. H., 278 Or.App. at 614. As a result of that reversal, the juvenile court set aside the 2016 termination judgments and consolidated the two tracks of dependency cases. At a second termination trial, mother moved to dismiss jurisdiction and wardship as to all three children; the juvenile court denied those motions and entered judgments of termination.[1]

         Mother has a long history of using drugs, neglecting the children's physical and medical needs, keeping the children in filthy living conditions, and being involved in violent relationships. She also has been physically violent with the children and has mental health issues. She made some progress in addressing some of these issues in the year before trial but did not exhibit good understanding of how her past behavior has affected the children and still endangers them.

         Mother's history of substance abuse dates back as early as 2000. In October 2012, while pregnant with A, mother was reportedly using drugs in front of her children at an emergency shelter. She was admitted to a residential facility for methamphetamine detoxification in August [297 Or.App. 731] 2013. More recent drug use is unclear. In early 2015, mother claimed abstinence from prescription opioids for over a year. During a drug and alcohol treatment assessment in November 2015, mother falsely denied ever using amphetamine and opiates and was diagnosed with opioid use disorder. Between November 2015 and October 2016, mother gave 79 UAs, all negative, but had three no-shows and two dilute UAs, and her treatment provider did not know if mother had a relapse plan in place. In August 2016, mother told Dr. Basham that she had started using methamphetamine at age 28 ...


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