In re Tiffany Z.

Connecticut Superior Court Judicial District of New London Child Protection Session at MiddletownSep 28, 2005
2005 Ct. Sup. 12005 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2005)

September 28, 2005


MOTION TO REVIEW PERMANENCY PLANS


The court approves of the Permanency Plans, filed in Superior Court for Juvenile Matters, 9th District, located in Waterford (SCJM), on 3/8/04 and 1/7/05, calling for termination of parental rights and adoption. The court will also adopt the factual findings and case histories as proven by clear and convincing evidence in the TPR trial.

1. The court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that DCF has made reasonable efforts to:

a. locate the respondent parents and to maintain contact with them;

b. reunite Lisa with the children; and

c. to achieve the Permanency Plan.

2. The court finds that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to reunite Julio with the children.

3. This court finds by clear and convincing evidence that further efforts to reunify any of the children with either respondent parent are not appropriate.

4. This court finds by clear and convincing evidence that each respondent parent is either unwilling or unable to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. CT Page 12005-r

The court overrules all objections to the Permanency Plans.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

This memorandum of decision addresses termination of parental rights (TPR) petitions brought to terminate the parental rights of Lisa L. (Lisa), born 8/11/74, the biological mother, and Julio Z., Sr. (Julio), born 1/21/69, the biological father, of Tiffany Z. (Tiffany), born 11/27/93 and Luz Elena Z. (Elena), born 3/10/96.

The court finds the following by clear and convicting evidence:

The history of the file reflects that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has been involved with this family since 1995 for issues including physical abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, substance abuse, mental health, parenting deficits and domestic violence.

On 6/28/02, in Superior Court for Juvenile Matters, 9th District, located in Waterford (SCJM), (Swienton, J.), DCF sought and obtained Orders of Temporary Custody (OTC) for both Tiffany and Elena (the girls). DCF alleged that, on 6/26/02, the children's stepmother and Julio's wife, Barbara Z. (Barbara), and Barbara's mother Charlene B. (Charlene) had assaulted Elena by dragging her by the hair, kicking her in the face, and slapping her in the head. It was also indicated that Barbara had assaulted Tiffany by scratching her. The children indicated that they were frequently the subject of physical abuse.

DCF also alleged that Julio's home was in a deplorable and unsafe condition, in that it was overcrowded, the children's bedroom and the bathroom and pantry area lacked lighting, and the home lacked smoke detectors. DCF indicated that 5 children occupied 1 bedroom. The children also had ongoing problems with lice.

Finally, DCF indicated that Julio was unable and/or CT Page 12005-s unwilling to protect the children, in that he was frequently absent from the residence and that he had been informed of the physical abuse of the children, but had done nothing about it.

At the time of the issuance of the OTC, the court found that DCF had been unable to make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

DCF also filed a neglect petition in SCJM on behalf of Tiffany and Elena, alleging that the children;

1. had been denied proper care and attention, physically, educationally, emotionally or morally and that;

2. they had been permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to their well-being;

DCF also alleged that Elena had been abused and had physical injury or injuries inflicted upon her by other than accidental means.

The respondent parents appeared, with counsel, in SCJM, (Driscoll, J.) on 7/3/02. They entered pro forma denials on the neglect petitions. The matter was then was referred to Superior Court for Juvenile Matters-Child Protection Session, located in Middletown (CPS), for trial on the OTC.

On 7/11/02 in CPS (Levin, P.J.), trial commenced on the OTC. However, shortly after the proceedings commenced, the parties agreed that the court should sustain the OTC. The court then vested custody of the children in Lisa and issued specific steps and various other orders for both parents.

DCF objected to this placement.

The case was then returned to SCJM for further action.

On 7/17/02 in SCJM, the children's attorney's filed a Motion For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).

On 7/22/02 in SCJM (Driscoll, J.), the court granted the children's attorneys Motion For Appointment of GAL. CT Page 12005-t

On 9/5/02, in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.), Lisa and Julio entered written nolo contendre pleas as to the neglect allegations. After canvassing the respondent parents, the court accepted the plea, adjudicated the children as neglected and ordered them returned to Lisa under 6 months of protective supervision (PS). The court also ordered that Julio was to have reasonable visitation rights. The court ordered final specific steps and continued the orders entered by the court at the OTC trial on 7/11/02 in CPS.

The court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

The court also ordered a psychological evaluation as to the parents.

On 3/5/03, in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.), the court ordered the PS extended for an additional 3 months, without prejudice to the respondent parents.

On 3/20/03, in SCJM (Purtill, J.), the court confirmed the extension of the PS for 3 months. The respondent parents were present.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), DCF sought and obtained OTCs for both Tiffany and Elena. DCF alleged that Lisa was involved in ongoing domestic violence with her boyfriend, Daniel S. (Daniel).

DCF also sought and obtained an OTC for Daniela S. (Daniela), DOB: 7/4/01, the child of Lisa and Daniel.

The court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, DCF filed its Motion To Open And Modify Disposition.

The respondent parents appeared, with counsel, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.) on 4/4/03. The matter was again referred to CPS for trial on the OTC.

On 4/5/03 in CPS, (Trombley, J.), Lisa appeared and waived her right to a 10-day hearing concerning Tiffany and Elena, but contested the OTC as to Daniela. Eventually, the court sustained the OTC as to the 3 children. The court also ordered that the previous specific steps remain in effect and issued additional orders as to Lisa and Daniel.

On 8/1/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court granted DCF's Motion For Evaluation in part.

On 9/19/03, in SCJM, (Clifford, J.), Lisa entered a nolo contendre plea to the neglect allegations concerning Daniela. CT Page 12005-u

On 10/14/03, in SCJM, DCF filed its Motion For Release of Psychological Evaluations.

On 10/30/03, in SCJM, (Quinn, J.), the court granted DCF's Motion To Open And Modify Disposition as to Tiffany and Elena by agreement, and committed them to the custody of DCF. The court also granted DCF's Motion For Release of Psychological Evaluations.

The court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/8/04, in SCJM, DCF filed its Motion to Maintain Commitment (MMC) and its Motion to Review Permanency Plan (MRP). The permanency plan (PP) called for TPR as to both parents and for a finding of no further efforts towards reunification with either biological parent.

On 3/19/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court granted DCF's MMC as to Tiffany and Elena and transferred guardianship of Daniela to her paternal grandparents under 6 months PS. The court did not address the PP, but found that DCF made reasonable efforts to achieve the PP and to make it possible for the children to return home.

On 4/23/04, in SCJM, DCF filed TPR petitions as to Tiffany and Elena. DCF alleged the grounds of abandonment, failure to rehabilitate and no ongoing relationship as to each child as grounds for Julio. DCF alleged the ground of failure to rehabilitate as to Lisa for both children.

In final argument on 7/1/05, counsel for DCF abandoned its allegation of no ongoing relationship as to Julio.

On 5/20/04, in SCJM, (Burke, J.), Lisa appeared and entered a denial as to the TPR. Julio's counsel appeared and represented that Julio was unable to appear due to an injury he had suffered at work. The court continued his plea date to 6/3/04.

On 6/3/04, in SCJM, (Turner, J.), Julio failed to appear and was defaulted. Julio's counsel filed a Motion to Reopen Default later that day.

On 7/19/04, in SCJM, counsel for Lisa filed a Motion For Increased Visitation.

On 7/20/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court granted Julio's Motion to Reopen Default.

On 7/13/04, in SCJM, counsel for Lisa filed an objection to the PP. CT Page 12005-v

On 7/26/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court granted DCF's oral Motion to Consolidate.

On 10/7/04, in SCJM, (Cosgrove, J.), the court granted DCF's Motion For Evaluation and entered orders concerning visitation. Lisa's Motion For Increased Visitation was marked off.

On 1/7/05, in SCJM, DCF filed its Motion to Maintain Commitment (MMC) and its Motion to Review Permanency Plan (MRP). The permanency plan (PP) called for TPR as to both parents and for a finding of no further efforts towards reunification with either biological parent.

On 3/15/05, in SCJM, (Cosgrove, J.), the court granted an oral motion to include Natasha L. (Natasha) (DOB: 3/19/99) in the psychological evaluation. Natasha is the child of Lisa and Jean L. (Jean). The court vacated the Motion For Evaluation as it applied to the foster parents.

The court memorandum is silent as to who made the oral motion.

The court also overruled Lisa's 7/13/04 objection to the PP, without prejudice.

On 3/15/05, in SCJM, counsel for Lisa filed an objection to the PP.

Thereafter, this case was referred to Superior Court for Juvenile Matters-Child Protection Session, located in Middletown (CPS), for trial.

On 6/29/05, in CPS, this court commenced trial in this case as to the TPR and PP. Neither respondent parent appeared when court opened, although Lisa arrived at 1002 hours. Julio did not appear for the trial and the court excused his counsel at her request, and by agreement.

On 7/1/05, in CPS, the trial was completed. The court also granted DCF's Motion For Judicial Notice.

For the reasons stated below, the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, the TPR issues against the respondent parents and in favor of the petitioner State of Connecticut and DCF.

This court has jurisdiction over the pending case. Notice of this proceeding has been provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Practice Book. No action is pending in any other court affecting custody of these children. CT Page 12005-w

FACTUAL FINDNGS

The court has reviewed the neglect and TPR petitions and the exhibits, which included the TPR social study. The court has also reviewed the various motions which are the subject of this trial and has taken judicial notice of the record. The court has utilized the applicable legal standards in considering the evidence and the testimony of trial witnesses. Upon deliberation, the court finds that the following facts were proven by clear and convincing evidence at trial.

In addition to the items that the court took judicial notice of in response to the granting of the State's motion, the court also took judicial notice of the pleadings, petitions, motions, summaries of facts, specific steps, transcripts and court memorandum not related to any judicial pretrials or case status conferences. The court did not review any status reports, social studies or evaluations not otherwise entered into evidence as full exhibits.

"It is well established that in cases tried before courts, trial judges are the sole arbiters of the credibility of witnesses and it is they who determine the weight to be given specific testimony." In re Antonio M., 56 Conn.App. 534, 540, 744 A.2d 915 (2000); see also In re Hector L., 53 Conn.App. 359, 366, 730 A.2d 106 (1999). `The probative force of conflicting evidence is for the trier to determine . . ." In re Jonathon G., 63 Conn.App. 516, 528, 777 A.2d 695 (2001).

LISA (INCLUDES PHYSICAL, MENTAL, SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL CONDITION)

Lisa was born in New London on 8/11/74 to Linda L. (MGM) and Louis L.T. (MGF). She has a brother who resides in Groton, is 29 years old, is unmarried and childless. Lisa stated that she has many stepbrothers and stepsisters on her father's side, but she does not know their names and reported that most of them are deceased. Lisa indicated that her parents were divorced when she was 7 years old. She stated that MGF died in 1993, when she was 18 years old. Lisa reported that after her parents divorced, she had a very strong relationship with her father, as she was "daddy's girl." She indicated that her brother is a "momma's boy." Lisa described her relationship with her mother as good and indicated that she was quite close to her brother. Lisa stated that her mother has been very helpful and is a person she can rely upon for support.

Lisa reported that MGM is of Dutch and Irish descent. She indicated that MGM has some Cherokee Indian heritage, but is not a member of the tribe. She indicated that her father was born in Puerto Rico. Lisa stated that she is bi-lingual.

Lisa reported that she dropped out of high school when she was in the 11th grade, believing that night school would be quicker. She stated that she became pregnant with Tiffany while she was attending adult education classes in New London and failed to obtain her GED. Lisa reported that she and her brother were "nerds" in school who did not have many friends.

Lisa reported that she met Julio through his cousin when she was 18 years old and he was 23 years old. She indicated that they dated for 5 years. She stated that she became pregnant with Tiffany within approximately 2 months after meeting Julio.

Lisa reported that Elena was born a couple of years into her relationship with Julio. She indicated that she and Julio began CT Page 12005-x cohabitation shortly after they started to date. Lisa told DCF that she lived with her uncle in a one-bedroom apartment when Julio moved in. She stated that she worked two full-time jobs to support the household, as Julio did not work.

Lisa described the beginning of her relationship with Julio as good, but indicated that it started to become emotionally abusive and then physically abusive. She recounted an incident to DCF in which she sought the intervention of his family. She indicated that she showed them bruises from injuries that Julio had inflicted upon her as proof as they had doubted her in the past. She reported that his father reproached Julio for the domestic violence. Lisa reported that the fights were based on jealousy on Julio's part and described him as very possessive. Lisa reported that she ended the relationship with him, as she could not take the abuse any longer. She indicated that Julio made her too dependent on him.

In 2003, Lisa reported to Dr. James Connolly, Ph.D, the court-appointed evaluator, that Julio had sexually victimized her during their relationship.

Lisa reported that she then entered into a relationship with Jean soon after ending her relationship with Julio. She told DCF that she cohabited with Jean for 2 years. Lisa reported that, approximately 1 year into the relationship with Jean, she became pregnant with Natasha, who was born on 3/19/99.

Lisa reported that Jean was frequently unfaithful yet very jealous. Lisa indicated that she ended the relationship due to his infidelity.

Lisa reported that she relied on Jean to provide childcare for her while she worked, even after the termination of the relationship. She indicated that she had to repeatedly call the police to have them make Jean return Natasha to her care. She indicated that she later allowed Jean to maintain custody of Natasha, as she was tired of putting her through the constant calls to the police. Lisa reported that legal custody of Natasha has never been established. She stated that Natasha does not know her as her mother.

Lisa reported that Jean took good care of Natasha.

Lisa reported that she entered into a relationship with Daniel in 5/00. Lisa relocated to Ohio and left her children in Connecticut so to be with Daniel in 9/00: Their child, Daniela was born on 7/4/01 in Cleveland. She reported that there was some jealousy on his part, but for CT Page 12005-y the most part the relationship had been positive.

However, the clear and convincing evidence shows that Daniel and Lisa's relationship has been marked by domestic violence. On 1/16/03, in Superior Court, Geographical Area #10, New London, Daniel was convicted of the following offenses and was sentenced as follows:

Assault in the 3rd Degree 6 months execution suspended 2 years probation Violation of a Protective Order 6 months execution suspended 2 years probation The court (McMahon, J.) ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

Daniel's former probation officer, James Romano, testified that Lisa was the victim in these matters. He also testified that, as part of Daniel's special conditions of probation, Daniel was to have no contact with Lisa except for issues relating to their child and he was to submit to anger management counseling.

Romano testified that he discovered that Daniel and Lisa were having contact, in violation of the special condition, and that Lisa wished to have contact with Daniel. On 10/24/03, in G.A. #10, Lisa testified at Daniel's probation modification hearing. The court then modified the special condition to allow Daniel to have contact with Lisa.

Romano also testified that Daniel failed to undergo anger management counseling.

Daniel testified that he had a violent relationship with Lisa in the past but he has not hit her "in awhile." He denied hitting Lisa in front of the children.

Both Tiffany and Elena have discussed the domestic violence that has occurred between Lisa and Daniel.

Daniel indicated that he stays at her residence periodically.

Lisa stated that she moved back to Connecticut because she wanted to be closer to Tiffany and Elena. She reported that her friends and family told her that she needed to fight for the girls, who were with Julio. Lisa indicated that Julio had Tiffany and Elena due to her unemployment and homelessness. She stated that Julio had family support that assisted him in caring for the girls. CT Page 12005-z

Lisa indicated to DCF that she has worked since age 15 and had been employed at a Laundromat, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Shop Rite.

Lisa reported that she is healthy and denies having any chronic illnesses.

At the time of the TPR social study, Lisa reported that she has not seen a doctor since giving birth to Daniela. She reported that she will follow through with a physical examination as her last OB-GYN appointment showed some abnormalities in some test results. She indicated that she had abnormal pap smears. Lisa denies ever being hospitalized for other than childbirth and a tubal ligation.

Lisa denied to DCF that she had ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition. However, she has been diagnosed by Rebecca Frost at Child and Family Agency (CFA) as having Anxiety Disorder NOS, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depressive Disorder NOS. Lisa also denied substance abuse. She tested negative on a sequential hair analysis done in 8/00.

Lisa's criminal check revealed no convictions.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa is presently unemployed.

DCF has previously susbstaniated physical abuse against Lisa.

Julio (INCLUDES PHYSICAL, MENTAL, SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL CONDITION)

Julio was born on 01/21/69 to Angel Z. (PGF) and Luz T. (PGM), the eldest of 4 children. One of his brothers lives in New York, while the other brother and his sister live in Puerto Rico. He reported to DCF that PGF died in 2001. He indicated that PGM was living in Puerto Rico.

Julio reported that he completed the 9th grade at a local junior high school, but later dropped out of high school and did not complete his GED.

Julio indicated that he moved to Groton in 1981 and lived there with PGF, while PGM and his siblings remained in Puerto Rico. He reported that he returned to Puerto Rico in 1986 because he wanted to live with PGM, but returned to Connecticut in 1991 to get a job while PGF was still in Connecticut. He stated that he lived with PGF for a short period of CT Page 12005-aa time.

Julio reported to DCF that he met Lisa in 1993 and lived with her for 5 years. He stated that he ended the relationship because she was using drugs, an allegation that she denies. He denied engaging in any domestic violence with her.

Julio reported to DCF that, at the time of the TPR social study, he was working as a landscaper. Previously, he had worked as a cook.

Julio indicated to DCF that he was healthy with no chronic illnesses. He denied being hospitalized for or having received any prior diagnoses of mental illness. He reported no family history of mental illness.

Julio denied having past or present substance abuse issues.

Julio has never served in the military.

On 4/24/99, Julio wed Barbara Z. (Barbara), reportedly the 1st marriage for both. They had been dating since the middle of 1998. Barbara reported that she met Julio when she was baby-sitting for a friend that he was dating. A month later, they started to date. Barbara reported that they started to live with each other after getting married. Barbara reported that the marriage was fine with no concerns. She denied any domestic violence incidences between them. Barbara indicated that after they married, they moved into Julio's apartment, but then moved in with her mother, Charlene B. (Charlene) in 7/99. At the time of the TPR social study they were still residing with Charlene, 2 of Barbara's sisters and a niece. Barbara and Julio indicated that they were in the process of finding their own living arrangements, but were having difficulties finding affordable housing. Julio and Barbara are the parents of a son, Julio Z., Jr.

While Tiffany and Elena were in the care of Julio, DCF conducted an investigation with regards to allegations of physical abuse by Charlene and Barbara. The report indicates that Elena had a cut and swollen lip that was caused by Barbara dragging Elena by the hair and kicking her in the lip. Elena also had scratches on her face, which were caused by Charlene. Tiffany was also found to have scratches on her right thigh and reported that Barbara inflicted these scratches. Tiffany reported that when she would not listen, Barbara would hit her.

On 6/28/02, DCF sought and obtained OTCs for both Tiffany and Elena.

Julio has consistently stated that he cannot be not a resource for his CT Page 12005-ab two daughters. He has not seen them since 7/03. He has failed to inquire with DCF regarding their well being, nor has he sent letters, cards, gifts or any other communications. He has not given his daughters cards or gifts for their birthdays or any other holidays.

Julio has been given the opportunity to call DCF and set up a visitation schedule with his daughters, but has failed to do so. On 7/26/04, at a court hearing, DCF social worker Gonzalez spoke to Julio concerning visitation. Julio indicated that he had transportation difficulties. Gonzalez offered him transportation for visitation and handed him a business card with the DCF telephone number that he could call in order to contact a social worker to set up a visitation schedule with his daughters. On 8/10/04, Gonzalez mailed a letter to Julio encouraging him to make contact in order to set up a visitation schedule. A copy of the letter was also faxed to his attorney. Julio failed to contact DCF regarding visitation with his daughters.

At the TPR trial, Gonzalez testified that he last had contact with Julio on 7/26/04 and, on that date, Julio failed to inquire about his daughters' well-being.

TIFFANY (INCLUDES PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL STATUS OF THE CHILD AS REQUIRED BY CGS § 45a-717(e)(1).)

Tiffany was born on 11/27/93 in New London, the eldest child of Lisa and Julio. She was reported to have been developmentally on target. Tiffany was initially in the care and custody of both parents until their relationship ended. She lived with her mother until 9/00. At that time, Lisa relinquished the care and custody of both Tiffany and Elena to their father, so she could move to Cleveland to be with Daniel. Lisa also indicated to DCF that she gave custody of the children to Julio because she did not have the means to care for them, i.e., employment and housing.

Tiffany and Elena remained with Julio until 6/26/02.

On 6/26/02, Lisa contacted DCF and indicated that MGM picked the children up for a scheduled visit. She indicated that MGM observed Elena to have facial injuries. Upon inquiry by MGM, DCF and local law enforcement, it was ascertained that both children had been subjected to ongoing physical abuse by both Barbara and Charlene.

On 6/26/02, Elena and Barbara became involved in an altercation which resulted in Elena being dragged by her hair by Barbara. Elena then kicked Barbara in the leg; Barbara responded by kicking Elena in the mouth. CT Page 12005-ac Subsequently, Charlene struck Elena in the face. DCF indicated that Elena had 2 scratches on her left cheek area, a bruise and a swollen lip.

Tiffany was determined to have scratches on her right thigh. She disclosed that these marks were the result of an altercation where she struck Barbara, and Barbara then grabbed her leg and sunk her nails into the flesh, causing the scratches.

Both children indicated that this abuse occurred regularly. Elena indicated that Julio was seldom home, preferring to spend his after work hours visiting a home on Belden Street where he consumed beer. Tiffany indicated that she had reported the abuse to her father, without result.

Police described the home as being "in deplorable condition." They indicated that there was no lighting in the children's bedroom, or in the bathroom and pantry area and that there were no smoke detectors in the residence. They also reported that 5 children lived in 1 bedroom.

DCF reported that the children had been beset by lice, having at least 4 episodes within the month. The school nurse had refused to allow them back into school until Julio or Barbara provided proof that they had been treated.

DCF placed the children with MGM until they obtained an OTC.

On 7/11/02 in CPS (Levin, P.J.), trial commenced on the OTC. However, shortly after the proceedings commenced, the parties agreed that the court should sustain the OTC. The court then vested custody of the children in Lisa and issued specific steps and various other orders for both parents.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), DCF sought and obtained Orders of Temporary Custody for both Tiffany and Elena, based upon their allegations of ongoing domestic violence between Lisa and Daniel.

On 4/5/03 in CPS, (Trombley, J.), the respondent mother appeared and waived her rights to a 10-day hearing concerning Tiffany and Elena.

Since being placed in the care and custody of DCF, Tiffany has been in 8 placements. She has struggled with various issues, including defiance, oppositionality, enuresis and basic hygiene. She has demonstrated difficult behaviors while in foster homes, including fighting with other children and assaulting a foster parent. Tiffany attributes some of these behaviors to visitation with Lisa. Tiffany stated that Lisa sometimes tells her things that she does not need to know, including telling her CT Page 12005-ad that she is coming home soon. Tiffany stated that these comments bother her and that she ends up taking it out on others by acting out and through poor behavior.

Notes and letters have been found on Tiffany that apparently are given to her by mother stating to call and e-mail her while in school.

Tiffany has disrupted at least 3 placements.

While placed in one foster home, Tiffany assaulted the foster mother with a book and was removed. Tiffany denied the assault and claimed that the foster mother lied.

In 2000, Tiffany disclosed that she had been sexually abused by 2 perpetrators while in the care and custody of her father. Subsequently, she also disclosed that both she and Elena had been sexually abused by Daniel. Both children later recanted their accusations concerning Daniel; however, in 2004, Elena reported to a foster mother that Daniel had sexually abused her.

Tiffany has also disclosed that Lisa had physically disciplined her with implements and that there had been ongoing domestic violence between Lisa and Daniel.

Tiffany is presently in therapy with the Child and Family Agency (CFA). Previously, she has received therapy at Child Guidance Center (CGC).

Tiffany was evaluated for sexual abuse by Rebecca Bowen of Northeast Clinical. The evaluation revealed that Tiffany does not have any problems associated with depression. It also revealed that Tiffany has a lack of concentration and feels that people are against her, which results in her having difficulty sleeping. A projective test indicated features associated with children who feel a lack of emotional warmth and may use fantasy as a form of satisfaction. The evaluation results did not suggest that Tiffany displays unusual sexual behaviors.

Tiffany's present foster mother (Sandra) reported that Tiffany has adapted well to her home, and enjoys a good relationship with her and with the other children there. Sandra indicated that, although Tiffany has had several arguments with her biological daughter, Tiffany's relationship with the other children in the home is appropriate.

Sandra reported that Tiffany demonstrated satisfactory academic performance this year and did not have to attend summer school. At the CT Page 12005-ae time of the TPR trial, Tiffany had completed the 5th grade and was described as a B/C student.

During her testimony, Sandra indicated her willingness to adopt Tiffany. She also testified that Tiffany wishes to be adopted into this home.

In the past, Tiffany has vacillated concerning adoption. At a time prior to the writing of the TPR social study, Charee Green, her therapist, described Tiffany as being angry and disappointed with her mother. During therapy, Tiffany stated that she does not think that Lisa can provide for her and take care of her as well as her (then) foster mother did. Tiffany also stated to Green that she does not want to live with Lisa and that she wanted to be adopted.

As of the date of the TPR social study, Tiffany stated that she did want to return to Lisa. However, in the 1/19/05 status report, Tiffany reported to her therapist that she did not want to live with Lisa and that she wanted to be adopted.

Tiffany is scheduled to have visitation with Lisa once per week. The clear and convincing evidence shows that these visits are difficult for all parties concerned. Lisa has behaved improperly during the visits, chastising the children inappropriately and reducing both children to tears. DCF has ended visits early due to Lisa's behavior. Tiffany periodically refuses to visit with her mother.

Tiffany and Elena have a history of disrupting placements due to their behaviors and their relationship towards each other. In 11/04, DCF considered placing Elena with Tiffany. However, after finding out that they would be placed together, both girls' behavior escalated. At that time, Elena stated that she wanted to remain in her current foster home and did not want to live with Tiffany. Tiffany also stated that her behavior outburst was due to the fact that she was afraid that Elena would receive all of the attention in the foster home. She did not want Elena to live with her and she liked being the only child in the home.

Tiffany visits with Elena, and has stayed overnight once in Elena's present placement. In the past, she would become frustrated with her sisters when they would not listen to her. At times, Tiffany acted in a parentified manner, making her sisters uncomfortable. She also engaged in physical altercations with Elena. Tiffany became easily frustrated when Elena did not listen to her.

Tiffany was close to Daniela, and looked out for her well-being. CT Page 12005-af

ELENA (INCLUDES PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL STATUS OF THE CHILD AS REQUIRED BY CGS § 45a-717(e)(1).)

Elena was born on 3/10/96 in New London, the daughter of Lisa and Julio. Elena was initially in the care and custody of both parents until their relationship ended. She lived with her mother until 9/00. At that time, Lisa relinquished the care and custody of both Tiffany and Elena to their father, so she could move to Cleveland to be with Daniel. Lisa also indicated to DCF that she gave custody of the children to Julio because she did not have the means to care for them, i.e. employment and housing.

Tiffany and Elena remained with Julio until 6/26/02.

On 6/26/02, Lisa contacted DCF and indicated that MGM picked the children up for a scheduled visit. She indicated that MGM observed Elena to have facial injuries. Upon inquiry by MGM, DCF and local law enforcement, it was ascertained that both children had been subjected to ongoing physical abuse by both Barbara and Charlene.

On 6/26/02, Elena and Barbara became involved in an altercation which resulted in Elena being dragged by her hair by Barbara. Elena then kicked Barbara in the leg; Barbara responded by kicking Elena in the mouth. Subsequently, Charlene struck Elena in the face. DCF indicated that Elena had 2 scratches on her left cheek area, a bruise and a swollen lip.

Both children indicated that this abuse occurred regularly. Elena indicated that Julio was seldom home, preferring to spend his after work hours visiting a home on Belden Street where he consumed beer. Tiffany indicated that she had reported the abuse to her father, without result.

Police described the home as being "in deplorable condition." They indicated that there was no lighting in the children's bedroom, and the bathroom and pantry area and that there were no smoke detectors in the residence. They also reported that 5 children lived in 1 bedroom.

DCF reported that the children had been beset by lice, having at least 4 episodes within the month. The school nurse had refused to allow them back into school until Julio or Barbara provided proof that they had been treated.

DCF placed the children with MGM until they obtained an OTC. CT Page 12005-ag

On 7/11/02 in CPS (Levin, P.J.), trial commenced on the OTC. However, shortly after the proceedings commenced, the parties agreed that the court should sustain the OTC. The court then vested custody of the children in Lisa and issued specific steps and various other orders for both parents.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), DCF sought and obtained Orders of Temporary Custody for both Tiffany and Elena, based upon their allegations of ongoing domestic violence between Lisa and Daniel.

On 4/5/03 in CPS, (Trombley, J.), the respondent mother appeared and waived her rights to a 10-day hearing concerning Tiffany and Elena.

Since being placed in the care and custody of DCF, Elena has been in 8 placements. She has a history of substantial behavioral problems. Her behaviors include their, defiance, tantruming, yelling, cursing, destroying property, physical aggression, and trying to hurt herself and others. These behaviors have resulted in the disruption of some previous placements. Additionally, these behaviors have also resulted in Elena being admitted to partial hospitalization programs on 3 occasions and was hospitalized in 8/04. It has been noted that at times these behaviors were precipitated by her contact with her mother.

After visiting with Lisa, Elena reported she has been upset because she knew that her mother continued in a relationship with Daniel. Elena continues to report that she fears Daniel, dislikes him and is in fear for her mother's safety.

In 2000, Tiffany disclosed that she had been sexually abused by 2 perpetrators while in the care and custody of her father. Subsequently, she also disclosed that both she and Elena had been sexually abused by Daniel. Both children later recanted their accusations concerning Daniel; however, in 2004, Elena reported to a foster mother that Daniel had sexually abused her. She has also disclosed that she has nightmares about him.

In the most recent addendum to the TPR social study, Elena stated that she did not want to go home if Daniel remained in the home.

Elena has been diagnosed with PTSD. Presently, she has been prescribed Tenex to address this. Previously, she had been prescribed Fluoxentine. Presently, Elena attends weekly therapy with Julie Danis of Child Guidance in New London. Previously, Elena attended weekly therapy sessions with Charee Green of Child Guidance in New London. Ms. Green reported that Elena has shown some progress and talked more during her CT Page 12005-ah therapy sessions. Ms. Green also reported that Elena stated that she did want to go home with her mother.

DCF has described Elena as very manipulative and indicated that she frequently engages in controlling behaviors, and is passive-aggressive. On occasion, Elena has tantrums that include throwing her belongings around the room, kicking walls and doors. Elena has also displayed poor behaviors such as not listening, taking things without permission from her foster homes and school, and being verbally disrespectful to her foster parents. DCF also describes her as very smart, but stubborn.

Elena is very protective of Lisa and has been cautious about disclosing anything to DCF. However, she confirmed the domestic violence between Lisa and Daniel, and has vivid recollections of being locked in the bathroom with Lisa when Daniel broke a window to get to them.

Elena has completed the 3rd grade and is a regular education student with average grades. Elena's present foster mother, Jana, testified that Elena was academically behind in reading and spelling and very far behind in mathematics. However, Jana also reported that she caught up quickly and received an award.

Tiffany and Elena have a history of disrupting placements due to their behaviors and their relationship towards each other. In 11/04, DCF considered placing Elena with Tiffany. However, after finding out that they would be placed together, both girls' behavior escalated. At that time, Elena stated that she wanted to remain in her current foster home and did not want to go and live with Tiffany. Tiffany also stated that her behavior outburst was due to the fact that she was afraid that Elena would receive all of the attention in the foster home. She did not want Elena to live with her and she liked being the only child in the home.

At the TPR trial, Jana testified that Elena was placed in her home of 5/27/05. She indicated that Elena was "initially delightful," but more recently has been more argumentative and oppositional. Jana testified that Elena likes to argue and shout and wants to be in control. She further reported that Elena lies, takes things without permission, and has come home from school with property and money that was clearly not hers.

Jana testified that Elena has discussed being afraid and has awakened at night with fears that someone might break into the foster home. Elena wants the foster mother to get another watchdog. According to Jana, Elena wanted her bedroom windows closed and locked. Jana, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist, indicated at trial that some of Elena's CT Page 12005-ai fears could be PTSD indicators.

RELATIVE RESOURCES

The clear and convincing evidence shows that there are no relative resources for placement of the children.

MGM had previously cared for Tiffany and Elena. However, her problematic housing situation combined with her inability to manage the children's difficult and challenging behaviors make her inappropriate as a long-term resource for them.

SIBLINGS

Tiffany and Elena have 2 young sisters and 1 younger brother.

Daniela, the child of Lisa and Daniel, was born on 7/4/01 in Cleveland.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), DCF sought and obtained an OTC for Tiffany, Elena and Daniela.

On 4/5/03 in CPS, (Trombley, J.), the respondent mother appeared and waived her rights to a 10-day hearing concerning Tiffany and Elena, but contested the OTC as to Daniela. The court sustained the OTC as to the 3 children. The court also ordered that the previous specific steps remain in effect and issued additional orders as to Lisa and Daniel.

On 9/19/03, in SCJM, (Clifford, 1), Lisa entered a nolo contendre plea to the neglect allegations concerning Daniela.

On 3/19/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court granted DCF's MMC as to Tiffany and Elena and transferred guardianship of Daniela to her paternal grandparents under 6 months PS.

Tiffany was close to Daniela, and looked out for her well-being when they were together in Lisa's home.

Natasha, the child of Lisa and Jean, was born on 3/19/99.

Lisa reported that she relied on Jean to provide childcare for her while she worked, even after the termination of the relationship. She indicated that she had to repeatedly call the police to have them make Jean return Natasha to her care. She indicated that she later allowed Jean to maintain custody of Natasha, as she was tired of putting her CT Page 12005-aj through the constant calls to the police. Lisa reported that legal custody of Natasha has never been established. She stated that Natasha does not know her as her mother.

Lisa reported that Jean took good care of Natasha.

In 7/04, Lisa reported to DCF that Natasha was residing with her. She indicated that Jean left Natasha with Lisa, stating that it was her [Lisa's] turn to take care of Natasha. Lisa stated that Natasha was a handful and that her behaviors were out of control. Natasha has displayed defiant behavior.

In 12/04, Natasha disclosed that, while in the care of her father, she was sexually molested by her brothers. Lisa also reported that Natasha was displaying sexualized behaviors in school.

Natasha receives individual counseling at CFA to address her behavior and other issues.

On 11/4/04 in SCJM, DCF also filed a neglect petition in SCJM on behalf of Natasha. On 4/22/05, in SCJM, (Purtill, J.), DCF sought and obtained an OTC for Natasha.

On 4/22/05, in SCJM, Lisa and Jean appeared and agreed that the court should sustain the OTC.

At the TPR trial, Laurie Baum, an Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) clinician with United Children and Family Services (UCFS), testified that Natasha was very difficult to manage.

Julio and Barbara are the parents of Julio Jr. Dr. Connolly, in his 10/31/02 evaluation, indicated that Julio Jr. was an infant.

No other information was supplied concerning Julio Jr., his age or status.

No information was supplied as to the nature of the relationship between Tiffany or Elena and Natasha and Julio Jr.

ADJUDICATION

On 10/30/03 in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that the children had been neglected. After adjudicating the children neglected, the court then committed them to the custody of DCF. The court is next called upon to determine whether the CT Page 12005-ak petitioner has met its burden of proving the allegations presented by the pending TPR petitions. Practice Book § 35a-3. "Under § 17a-112, a hearing on a petition to terminate parental rights consists of two phases: the adjudicatory phase and the dispositional phase. During the adjudicatory phase, the trial court must determine whether one or more of the . . . grounds for termination of parental rights . . . exists by clear and convincing evidence." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Quanitra M., 60 Conn.App. 96, 102, 758 A.2d 863, cert. denied, 254 Conn. 903, 762 A.2d 909 (2000); see also In re Brea B., 75 Conn.App. 466, 469-70, 816 A.2d 707 (2003).

In the adjudicatory phase of these proceedings, the court has considered the evidence related to circumstances and events prior to 4/23/04, the date upon which the TPR petitions were filed in SCJM. With regard to the allegations of failure to achieve rehabilitation and no ongoing relationship brought against the respondent parents, the court has also considered the evidence and testimony related to circumstances occurring through the close of trial. Upon review, the court has determined by clear and convincing evidence that statutory grounds for termination of parental rights exist as to all respondent parents.

"Under 17a-112, a hearing on a petition to terminate parental rights consists of two phases: the adjudicatory phase and the dispositional phase. During the adjudicatory phase, the trial court must determine whether one or more of the four grounds for termination of parental rights set forth in [§ 17a-112(j)] exists by clear and convincing evidence. The commissioner . . . in petitioning to terminate those rights, must allege and CT Page 12005-cm prove one or more of the statutory grounds." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Quanitra M., supra, 60 Conn.App. 102.

Practice Book § 35a-7(a) generally provides that "[i]n the adjudicatory phase, the judicial authority is limited to evidence of events preceding the filing of the petition or the latest amendment . . ."

"Despite Practice Book § 33-3(a) and case law regarding termination proceedings generally, we have determined that with regard to termination petitions brought under § 17a-112(c)(3)(B), the trial court may, in the adjudicatory phase, properly consider facts and events that occur after the filing date of the petition in determining whether a respondent has achieved a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation within the meaning of that statute. See In re Stanley D., 61 Conn.App. 224, 230, 763 A.2d 83 (2000)." In re Latifa K., 67 Conn.App. 742, 748, 789 A.2d 1024 (2002). Events occurring after the date of the filing of the TPR petition are particularly relevant to the issue of, "whether the degree of rehabilitation is sufficient to foresee that the parent may resume a useful role in the child's life within a reasonable time." (Emphasis in original.) In re Stanley D., supra, 61 Conn.App. 230.

LOCATION AND REUNIFICATION EFFORTS

In order to terminate parental rights, the court must find, by clear and convincing evidence, that DCF "has made reasonable efforts to locate the parent and to reunify the child with the parent, unless the court finds in this proceeding that the parent is unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification efforts provided such finding is not required if the court has determined at a hearing that such efforts are not appropriate." C.G.S. § 17a-112(j)(1). In this context, "[r]easonableness is an objective standard . . . and whether reasonable efforts have been proven depends on the careful consideration of the circumstances of each individual case." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Antonio M., 56 Conn.App. 534, 547, 744 A.2d 915 (2000); see also In re Daniel C., 63 Conn.App. 339, 362, 776 A.2d 487 (2001).

"Although [n]either the word reasonable nor the word efforts is . . . defined by our legislature or by the federal act from which the requirement was drawn . . . [r]easonable efforts means doing everything reasonable, not everything possible." (Internal quotation marks omitted) In re Maria S., 61 Conn.App. 248, 255, 763 A.2d 71 (2000), cert. denied, 255 Conn. 934, 767 A.2d 105 (2001). "[R]easonableness is an objective standard . . . and whether reasonable efforts have been proven depends on the careful consideration of the circumstances of each individual case." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Hector L., 53 Conn.App. 359, 372, 730 A.2d 106 (1999). Only "reasonable" efforts are required as "[i]t is axiomatic that the law does not require a useless and futile act." In re Antony B., 54 Conn.App. 463, 476, 735 A.2d 893 (1999).

In this case, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF made reasonable efforts to locate the respondent parents and to maintain contact with them.

Although DCF has had contact with Julio in the past, the clear and convincing evidence shows that he has failed to actively participate in this case since the children were taken into DCF care and custody. He has failed to visit his daughters since 7/03 and has stated to DCF that he is CT Page 12005-al not a placement resource for them. DCF social worker Gonzalez indicated that he has not talked to Julio since 7/26/04.

Despite its best efforts, DCF was unable to persuade Julio to participate in this case and show any interest in his children.

The State proved by clear and convincing evidence that DCF provided the following services to the respondent mother Lisa, or that the following services were provided to her:

DCF: Case management services, including visitation and service agreements

Centro de la Communidad-Individual Therapy, Parenting Education and Support

CFA-Individual Therapy

CFA-Safety Options and Recovery (SOAR)-Domestic Violence Counseling

CFA (Smith-Bent)-Supervised Visitation and Integrative Parenting Program

Community Health Center (CHC)-Medications

Evaluations with Dr. Connolly

Madonna Place-Visitation and Parenting Counseling

UCFS-IFP Services

Considered carefully, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF made reasonable efforts to reunite the respondent mother Lisa with the children. In re Antonio M., supra, 56 Conn.App. 547; see also In re Sheila J., 62 Conn.App. 470, 478-79, 771 A.2d 244 (2001).

The State proved by clear and convincing evidence that DCF offered or provided the following services to Julio, or that the following services were provided to him:

DCF: Case management services, including visitation, assistance with transportation for visitation and CT Page 12005-am service agreements

CFA (Smith-Bent)-Supervised Visitation

Evaluations with Dr. Connolly

Parent Aide referral

Substance abuse evaluation, testing and treatment

The clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF was unable to provide additional services to Julio due to his failure to maintain contact with DCF and his refusal to engage in the services.

Considered carefully, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to reunite Julio with the children. In re Antonio M., supra, 56 Conn.App. 547; see also In re Sheila J., supra, 62 Conn.App. 478-79.

Based on the clear and convincing evidence of the circumstances present in this case, the court finds that neither respondent parent is able and/or willing to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. C.G.S. § 17a-112(j)(1). Their serious issues clearly and convincingly make them unable and/or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. In re Amelia W., 62 Conn.App. 500, 504-05, 772 A.2d 619 (2001); see In re Ebony H., 68 Conn.App. 342, 350, 789 A.2d 1158 (2002).

The court further finds that the clear and convincing evidence presented in this case indicates that both Julio and Lisa were aware of their issues and deficits and had received specific steps addressing said issues. However, the clear and convincing evidence also shows that, despite this notification, both parents remained unable and/or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification services.

At the time of the issuance of the OTC on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court found that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from their home. CT Page 12005-an

On 9/5/02, in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 10/30/03, in SCJM, (Quinn, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 03/19/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF made reasonable efforts to achieve the PP and to make it possible for the children to return home.

This court also finds by clear and convincing evidence that further efforts at reunification are not appropriate for each of the respondent parents with regard to each of their children.

STATUTORY GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION AS TO LISA PARENTAL FAILURE TO REHABILITATE — CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B)

The petitioner State of Connecticut and DCF alleges that Lisa's parental rights should be terminated because she has failed to achieve rehabilitation within the meaning of CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B). As the children have been adjudicated neglected, the critical issue for this court is whether this respondent has achieved rehabilitation sufficient to render her able to care for the children. Applying the requisite legal standards and construing the statute in compliance with the mandate of CGS § 17a-112(q), the court finds this issue in favor of the petitioner.

CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B) provides that parental rights may be terminated by the Superior Court as to the parent of a child who "(i) has been found by the Court to have been neglected or uncared for in a prior proceeding, or (ii) is found to be neglected or uncared for and has been in the custody of the commissioner for at least fifteen months and the parent of such child has been provided specific steps to take to facilitate the return of the child to the parent pursuant to section 46b-129 and has failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable time, considering the age and needs of the child, such parent could assume a responsible position in the life of the child."

"Personal rehabilitation as used in [Section 17a-112] refers to the restoration of a parent to his or her former constructive and useful role as a parent . . . [The statute] requires the trial court . . . to find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the level of rehabilitation [she] has achieved, if any, falls short of that which would reasonably encourage a belief that at some future date [she] can assume a responsible position in [her] child's life. (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted) In re Eden F., 250 Conn. 674, 706, 741 A.2d 873 (1999) . . . [I]n assessing rehabilitation, the critical issue is not whether the parent has improved [her] ability to manage [her] own life, but rather whether [she] has gained the ability to care for the particular needs of the child at issue." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Sarah Ann K., 57 Conn.App. 441, 448, 749 A.2d 77 (2000). See also In re Ashley S., 61 Conn.App. 658, 665, 769 A.2d 718, 718, cert. denied, 255 Conn. 950, 769 A.2d 61 (2001); In re Amneris P., 66 Conn.App. 377, 384-85, 784 A.2d 457 (2000).

CGS § 17a-112(q) establishes that the provisions of CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B) "shall be liberally construed in the best interests of any child for whom a petition under this section has been filed."

Several aspects of the clear and convincing evidence in this case compel the conclusion Lisa has yet to achieve a sufficient "level of rehabilitation . . . CT Page 12005-ao which would reasonably encourage a belief that at some future date [she] can assume a responsible position in [her children's lives]." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Sarah Ann K., 57 Conn.App. 441, 448, 749 A.2d 77 (2000). See In re Daniel C., supra, 63 Conn.App. 354; In re Ashley S., 61 Conn.App. 658, 665, 769 A.2d 718, cert. denied, 255 Conn. 950, 769 A.2d 61 (2001). First, the credible evidence in this case, presented through the TPR social study, exhibits, and witnesses' testimony at the TPR trial, clearly and convincingly establishes that Lisa has not achieved CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B) rehabilitation. The court credits the DCF reports and the testimony which show that Lisa has been unable to achieve her rehabilitation.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa's issues are those of mental health, domestic violence, parenting deficits and a failure to complete and benefit from counseling. Her parenting deficits include issues of emotional abuse, physical abuse and physical neglect of the children. The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Lisa has been placed on notice to address her issues in the past.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court ordered specific steps for Lisa. She signed those specific steps on 7/11/02 and 9/5/02. Additionally, the court ordered specific steps for Lisa on behalf of Daniela on 4/8/03 in CPS (Trombley, J.). Lisa signed the CPS set of specific steps on 4/6/03.

Keep all appointments set by or with DCF. Cooperate with DCF home visits, announced and unannounced, and visits by the children's court-appointed attorney and/or guardian ad litem.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Keep children's whereabouts and your own whereabouts CT Page 12005-ap known to DCF, your attorney, and the attorney for the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Participate in parenting and individual counseling and make progress toward identified treatment goals.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with this step.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa attended Centro de la Comunidad for individual therapy, parenting education and support. The program director, Adriana Vazquez, testified that she saw Lisa for individual therapy, starting in 4/04. Vazquez indicated that Lisa's attendance was sporadic, and that she was not compliant with her medication regime, despite admitting to a past diagnosis of major depression.

Vazquez also saw Daniel for substance abuse treatment.

Vasquez testified that she discussed domestic violence with Lisa. She indicated that Lisa reported only 1 instance of domestic violence, that she indicated that domestic violence was not an ongoing issue, that she refused to accept the impact of domestic violence on the children, and that she refused to accept responsibility for any of the domestic violence that occurred while she had custody of the children. Vazquez reported that Lisa felt guilty for the leaving the children with Julio and their subsequent physical and sexual abuse, while in his care.

Vazquez also testified that Lisa indicated that Tiffany and Elena did not like Daniel due to jealousy. She indicated that she did not believe the children's reports that Daniel had sexually abused them.

Vazquez indicated that she last saw Lisa on 4/27/05, and that Lisa had subsequently failed to appear for CT Page 12005-aq therapy.

Vazquez opined that reunification was not appropriate due to Lisa's mental health status. She indicated that Lisa's failure to comply with her medication regimen impacted her ability to become emotionally stable.

Rebecca Frost, Lisa's clinician at CFA, indicated that Lisa had been referred to CFA for its domestic violence program in 4/03. She testified that as a result of the intake, CFA determined that Lisa had significant domestic violence, mental health and physical health issues.

Frost, who also saw Lisa for individual therapy, testified that Lisa failed to improve while under CFA's care. Frost indicated that Lisa showed no understanding of domestic violence and failed to apply what she had learned. She failed to grasp the effect of domestic violence on her children, insisted that her children had always felt safe in her home and denied that her children showed symptomology indicative of exposure to domestic violence. She minimized her own abuse and continued to live with her abuser, Daniel.

Frost testified that Lisa knew that Tiffany refused to return home while Daniel was still there. However, Lisa continued to deny that Tiffany held this position, but was angry that Tiffany had said it.

Frost indicated that Lisa had significant anxiety and depression. She had been diagnosed with PTSD and showed PTSD symptoms. She had been prescribed various psychotropic medications, yet admitted that she was not compliant with her medication regimen.

Frost concluded that Lisa lacked insight into her own problems and those of her children, and did not recommend that Lisa have unsupervised visits with her children.

Frost indicated that Lisa was discharged from treatment in 2/04-3/04 due to her failures to appear. Frost testified that Lisa was no better when discharged than she had been at the commencement of therapy. CT Page 12005-ar

Prior to her discharge, Lisa attended and completed the SOAR program. Frost testified that Lisa never read the material that she received at the SOAR program.

Frost also referred Lisa to the Community Health Center (CHC) for assistance with her medications.

The court also notes that Dr. Connolly recommended that Lisa adhere to her medication regimen.

Karen Cushing, a community worker in the CFA (Smith-Bent) Supervised Visitation and Integrative Parenting Program, testified that she had supervised visits between Lisa and the girls and provided parent education for Lisa from 1/05 through the date of the trial.

Cushing testified that Lisa would berate Tiffany during visits, causing the children to become upset. She would display visible anger.

Cushing indicated that, although Lisa showed some progress, she still needed to improve her parenting skills. Her progress was insufficient to allow her anything other than supervised visitation with her children.

Cushing testified that Lisa required coaching that was beyond the usual.

Marsha Quinn, Visitation Specialist and Assistant Program Director at Madonna Place, testified that Lisa had supervised visits with the children at her facility from 11/17/03 through 1/12/04, and that Lisa was unresponsive to the program's parenting recommendations. Additionally, Madonna Place records that were put into evidence indicate that Lisa exhibited a pattern of inappropriate behavior and an abject failure to comply with Madonna Place rules.

Lisa repeatedly used profanity, argued with Madonna Place personnel, and responded negatively and inappropriately to the children.

Madonna Place records indicated the following: CT Page 12005-as

On November 24th this monitor met with [Lisa] prior to her second visit. I sat down with her to talk about concerns that occurred during the first visit. I spoke with her about her negative reaction and sarcasm when the girls went into the visitation room and started to play basketball instead of paying attention to her. [Lisa] told this monitor that it hurt her feelings when they did this and she admitted that she was upset. When I told her that she could have gone over to them and that I had mentioned this to her, [Lisa] said, "I don't like it when people tell me what to do." I spoke to her about the demeaning way she told Tiffany that she is not the parent, and how the girls sat perfectly still as if they were afraid. [Lisa] responded by saying that her daughter is parentified. She stated that I can ask anyone about this and they will tell me the same thing. I told [Lisa] that this is something that is beyond Tiffany's control and if she has concerns, she needs to speak with her social worker. When I asked her why she made the negative comment about Tiffany's teeth, [Lisa] got defensive and told me that this is what happened at Smith Bent. I explained that I am here to work with her and to make suggestions that will help her parent and interact positively with her children. [Lisa] said that this was not going to work and that "these visits are ridiculous."

On December 15th this monitor met with [Lisa] to go over her monthly report review. One area of concern that I tried to discuss with Lisa, related to her negative reaction to Elena during the November 24th visit. I told [Lisa] that Elena only wanted to look at the jacks and suggested that they still could have played the game of Uno together. Instead, Lisa put the game away. After a few minutes Tiffany wanted to play and Lisa played the game with her and did not ask Elena if she wanted to play. I told [Lisa] that she appeared upset that Elena chose to look at the jacks. This was evident when she would not allow Elena to join them later on. I let her know that her behavior was inappropriate as she taunted Elena by moving the tissue paper around in such a way that Elena could not use it. [Lisa] informed this monitor CT Page 12005-at that "This is not going to work." She let me know that she would be talking to her social worker about this and I encouraged her to do so.

On January 5, 2004, Tiffany shut down emotionally after [Lisa] yelled at her for going to someone's house (Marilyn) and talking with her. Tiffany attempted to tell Lisa that Sam had given her permission to do this. [Lisa] was very negative and at times argumentative during this visit. She appeared to be more concerned with how Tiffany was making her feel rather than how Tiffany was feeling. Her interaction with Tiffany was inappropriate. After discussing this visit with my supervisor, Peg Getchell, we decided that we could not continue to support visits that may be detrimental to the emotional stability of the children.

Peg Getchell and I met with [Lisa] on the following week. We explained to her that we were terminating the visits after the incident with Tiffany on January 5th. We further explained that she has continuously broken guidelines and interacted with her children in a negative manner and although our goal has been to help her, she has been unwilling to work with us. [Lisa] walked but with Peg Getchell. Peg informed me that [Lisa] walked out quickly and as soon as she got outside she said started shouting profanities, saying "This f.ing place. I just wasted a half hour coming here." She got into the back of her car and took out a long stick. Peg was watching her from inside the building. [Lisa] looked at Peg and yelled, "What's your f.ing problem." [Lisa] got into her car and left. This behavior only served to reinforce our decision to terminate services with [Lisa].

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to make progress towards identified treatment goals.

Accept and cooperate with in-home support services referred by DCF:

There is no evidence that Lisa was referred to any in-home support services for Tiffany and Elena. However, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF referred her to IFP in reference to Natasha. Baum CT Page 12005-au testified that she found Daniel on the premises and discovered that he had been supervising Natasha. After ascertaining from DCF that Daniel should not have been on the premises and should not have been supervising Natasha, Baum made this clear to Lisa. She testified that Lisa was angry, overwhelmed and upset at DCF restrictions. Lisa denied the validity of the sexual molestation accusations leveled at Daniel by Tiffany and Elena.

Baum expressed concern at Lisa's harshness towards Natasha and noted her concern about Lisa's parenting skills. Baum testified that she made suggestions to Lisa concerning changing her parenting techniques. Baum reported that Lisa failed to apply her suggestions.

Submit to recommended service providers for parenting/individual/family counseling, in-home support services and/or substance abuse assessment/treatment:

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with this step.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has completed the SOAR program.

Lisa failed to complete the following programs and/or referrals:

Centro de la Communidad-Individual Therapy, Parenting Education and Support

CFA-Individual Therapy

CFA (Smith-Bent)-Supervised Visitation and Integrative Parenting Program

Community Health Center (CHC)-Medications

Madonna Place-Visitation and Parenting Counseling

Obtain and/or cooperate with a restraining/protective order and/or other appropriate safety plan as approved by DCF to avoid further domestic violence incidents.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with this step. Lisa has allowed Daniel to remain in her home despite his abuse of her and her children, and the children's claims that he sexually abused them. CT Page 12005-av

Sign releases authorizing DCF to communicate with service providers to monitor attendance, cooperation, and progress toward identified goals, and for use in future proceedings before this court.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Secure and/or maintain adequate housing and legal income.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Lisa has adequate housing. However, she was not employed as of the time of the trial.

No substance abuse.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

No involvement/further involvement with the criminal justice system. Cooperate with the Office of Adult Probation or parole officer and comply with conditions of probation or parole.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Consistently and timely meet and address the child's physical, educational, medical, or emotional needs, including, but not limited to, keeping the child's appointments with her medical, psychological, psychiatric, or educational providers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Make all necessary child-care arrangements insuring that the child is adequately supervised and cared for by appropriate caretakers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Immediately advise DCF of any changes in the CT Page 12005-aw composition of the household to ensure that the change does not compromise the health and safety of the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa failed to comply with this step. She allowed Daniel to move into her residence without informing DCF.

Cooperate with children's therapy.

There is no evidence that Lisa was asked to cooperate with the children's therapy.

Visit the children as often as DCF permits.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Refrain from corporal punishment of the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa failed to comply with this step. Tiffany has disclosed that Lisa had physically disciplined her with implements.

This court concludes that Lisa has not corrected the factors that led to the initial commitment of her children. The clear and convincing evidence reveals that, from 10/30/03, and continuing through the time of trial, Lisa has not been effectively available to take part in her children's lives, and, based on her mental health issues, domestic violence issues, gross parenting deficits and her refusal to participate in counseling and her failure to benefit from it, she will never be consistently available for these children.

Although Lisa has attended various referrals and programs for counseling, she has failed to complete most of them and has not been able to benefit from any of these referrals. The clear and convincing evidence indicates that she has failed to improve her parenting ability to acceptable standards. The credible evidence in this case clearly and convincing shows that, despite DCF's efforts on her behalf and her own efforts, Lisa remains incapable of providing a safe and nurturing environment for her children. When one considers the level of care, patience and discipline that children require from their caregivers, it is patently clear that Lisa is not in a better position to parent her children now than she was at any other time during these proceedings, and that she remains without the qualities necessary to successfully parent them. Effectively, she was no better able "to resume the responsibilities CT Page 12005-ax of parenting at the time of filing the termination petition than [she] had been at the time of the children's commitment." In re Hector L., 53 Conn.App. 359, 367, 730 A.2d 106 (1999). See In re Vincent D., 65 Conn.App. 658, 670, 783 A.2d 534 (2001) ("[i]n determining whether a parent has achieved sufficient personal rehabilitation, a court may consider whether the parent has corrected the factors that led to the initial commitment, regardless of whether those factors were included in specific expectations ordered by the court or imposed by the department"); see also In re Michael M., 29 Conn.App. 112, 125, 614 A.2d 832 (1992); In re Migdalia M., 6 Conn.App. 194, 206, 504 A.2d 533, cert. denied, 199 Conn. 809, 508 A.2d 770 (1986).

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa attended Centro de la Comunidad for individual therapy, but failed to complete it. She was also not compliant with her psychotropic medication. Adrianna Vazquez opined that reunification was not appropriate due to Lisa's mental health status. Vazquez indicated that Lisa's failure to comply with her medication regimen impacted her ability to become emotionally stable.

Lisa was also not compliant with her therapy at CFA. Rebecca Frost, her clinician, testified as to Lisa's failure to benefit under CFA's care and opined that Lisa had significant anxiety, depression and showed PTSD symptoms.

Frost concluded that Lisa lacked insight into her own problems and those of her children and did not recommend that Lisa have unsupervised visits with her children. She further indicated that Lisa was no better when discharged than when admitted.

Both Karen Cushing and Marcia Quinn of Madonna Place testified as to Lisa's inappropriate behavior during her visitation with her daughters and her failure to improve her parenting skills during visitation.

Laurie Baum's testimony showed that Lisa did not comply with specific steps and with DCF directives, by allowing Daniel in her home and allowing him to supervise Natasha. She testified that Lisa was angry, overwhelmed and upset at DCF restrictions. Lisa denied the validity of the sexual molestation accusations leveled at Daniel by Tiffany and Elena.

Baum's testimony established that Lisa continued to exhibit parenting difficulties and a refusal to comply with court orders despite referrals. More importantly, Baum's testimony showed that Lisa was still failing to apply recommendations concerning modification of her parenting techniques. CT Page 12005-ay

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa continued a relationship with Daniel, despite his domestic abuse of her and his sexual abuse of the children. Lisa continued to minimize Daniel's issues and refused to consider that he had actually molested her young daughters.

The credible evidence establishes that Lisa has continually exhibited poor judgment in the upbringing of her children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has not benefitted from the referrals and counseling that she has attended and still remains unable and/or unwilling to provide a safe, responsive and nurturing environment for her children. She still lacks the ability to exercise sound and responsible judgment on behalf of her children, nor has she shown the ability to implement decisions based in reasoned judgments learned from the techniques demonstrated and recommended to her in her various referrals.

Despite the services that were made available to Lisa and the services that she utilized, the clear and convincing evidence shows that she has failed to demonstrate that, within a reasonable time considering her children's ages, needs and special needs, she could assume a responsible position in their lives.

Lisa's chaotic lifestyle has proved detrimental to the children's development and well being. The damage done to both Tiffany and Elena bear this out in a clear and convincing manner.

Tiffany is 11 years old and has been in foster care since 3/27/03. She has been the subject of 2 OTCs and has been returned to Lisa's care and custody once. She was subjected to physical and sexual abuse while residing with her parents. Since being placed in the care and custody of DCF, Tiffany has been in 8 placements. She has struggled with various issues, including defiance, oppositionality, enuresis and basic hygiene. She has demonstrated difficult behaviors while she has been in foster homes, including fighting with other children and assaulting a foster parent.

Elena is 9 years old and has been in foster care since 3/27/03. She has been the subject of 2 OTCs and has been returned to Lisa's care and custody once. Since being placed in the care and custody of DCF, Elena has been in 8 placements. She has a history of substantial behavioral problems. Her behaviors include their, defiance, tantruming, yelling, cursing, destroying property, physical aggression, and trying to hurt CT Page 12005-bz herself and others. These behaviors have resulted in the disruption of some previous placements. Additionally, these behaviors have also resulted in Elena being admitted to partial hospitalization programs on 3 occasions and being hospitalized in 8/04.

After visiting with Lisa, Elena reported she has been upset because she knew that her mother persisted in the relationship with Daniel. Elena reports that she fears and dislikes Daniel and is fearful for her mother's safety.

In 2000, Tiffany disclosed that she had sexually abused by 2 perpetrators while in the care and custody of her father. Subsequently, she also disclosed that both she and Elena had been sexually abused by Daniel. Both children later recanted their accusations concerning Daniel, however, in 2004, Elena reported to a foster mother that Daniel had sexually abused her. Elena has disclosed that she has nightmares about him.

After visiting with Lisa, Elena reported she has been upset because she knew that her mother continued in a relationship with Daniel. Elena continues to report that she fears Daniel, dislikes him and is in fear for her mother's safety.

In the most recent addendum to the TPR social study, Elena stated that she did not want to go home if Daniel remained in the home.

Elena has been diagnosed with PTSD. Presently, she has been prescribed Tenex to address this. Previously, she had been prescribed Fluoxentine. Presently, Elena attends weekly therapy with Julie Danis of Child Guidance in New London. Previously, Elena attended weekly therapy sessions with Charee Green of Child Guidance in New London. Ms. Green reported that Elena has shown some progress and talked more during her therapy sessions. Ms. Green also reported that Elena stated that she did want to go home with her mother.

DCF has described Elena as very manipulative and indicated that she frequently engages in controlling behaviors, and is passive-aggressive. On occasion, Elena has tantrums that include throwing her belongings around the room, kicking walls and doors. Elena has also displayed poor behaviors such as not listening, taking things without permission from her foster homes and school, and being verbally disrespectful to her foster parents. DCF also describes her as very smart, but stubborn.

Elena is very protective of Lisa and has been cautious about disclosing anything to DCF. However, she confirmed the domestic violence between CT Page 12005-ba Lisa and Daniel, and has vivid recollections of being locked in the bathroom with Lisa when Daniel broke a window to get to them.

Continued foster care is detrimental to these children's development, they require a permanent home that is safe and nurturing.

Given the ages, sensibilities, needs and special needs of the children involved, and given Lisa's failure to correct her parental and personal shortcomings and deviancies, it would be unreasonable to conclude that she will be able to achieve rehabilitation from her issues so as to be able to serve as a safe, responsible and nurturing parent within a reasonable tine.

Sadly, the clear and convincing evidence shows that there is no amount of time that Lisa could be given that would allow her to realize and correct her problems, much less that she could accomplish this in a reasonable period of time. The testimony of Dr. Connolly indicated that at the time of his 2nd evaluation of Lisa in 2002, he was optimistic that Lisa could parent Tiffany and Elena if she engaged in intense therapy. He further testified that, at the time of his 2nd evaluation in 2003, he was less optimistic after learning that Lisa had failed to engage in therapy. Dr. Connolly indicated at that Lisa's failure to engage in therapy greatly diminished her chances of rehabilitation. He also indicated that Lisa's minimization of the true extent of her relationship with Daniel was consistent with her inability to protect herself and her children.

Dr. Connolly also opined that Lisa's continued problems during visitation indicate that she is mired in her own personal problems and was acting out in reference to her children. He concluded that there were no good prospect for her reunification with Tiffany and Elena and that Lisa has minimal prospects for rehabilitation.

Based upon the above, it would be exceedingly rash to expect Lisa to be able to parent her children at any time in the near future. Unfortunately, the clear and convincing evidence shows that the children's need for permanence and stability would not allow for them to spend more time in foster care on the slim hope that Lisa might overcome her issues.

Given the age, sensibilities, needs and special needs of the children involved, and given Lisa's failure to correct her deviancies, it would be unreasonable to conclude that she will be able to achieve rehabilitation from her various issues and her failure to engage in and benefit from counseling so as to be able to serve as a safe, responsible and nurturing CT Page 12005-bb parent within a reasonable time.

Despite the services that were offered to her, Lisa has failed to demonstrate that, within a reasonable time considering Tiffany and Elena's ages, needs and special needs, she could assume a responsible position in the children's lives so as to make reunification in the children's best interests.

Tiffany and Elena need parents who are able to effectively care for them now. They cannot wait for the exceedingly remote possibility that Lisa might address her mental health issues, her domestic violence issues, eliminate her parenting deficits, rectify her failure to consistently attend and benefit from counseling, comply with her medication regimen and acquire sufficient parenting ability to care for them one day. These children cannot wait for their mother to show that she has rehabilitated herself and is ready to assume her parental role. It is fundamental that "in assessing rehabilitation, the critical issue is not whether the parent improved [her] ability to manage [her own life, but rather whether [she] has gained the ability to care for the particular needs of the children] at issue." (Citations omitted. Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Amneris P., 66 Conn.App. 377, 384, 784 A.2d 457 (2000). Accordingly, based on the clear and convincing evidence presented in this case, the court finds that the petitioner has proved that Lisa has failed to achieve rehabilitation pursuant to CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B).

Based on all the facts presented in this case, the court finds that ascertaining whether Lisa is capable of rehabilitation is not foreseeable within a reasonable time. In re Daniel C., supra, 63 Conn.App. 354. In reaching this conclusion, the court has analyzed Lisa's past failures at personal rehabilitation and her parenting deficits as they relate to her children's need for a safe, responsible and nurturing parent who can meet their requirements and needs for emotional stability, security, and consistency.

The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that to allow Lisa further time to rehabilitate herself if that were possible, and to assume a responsible position in the lives of the children would not be in the best interests of Tiffany and Elena.

STATUTORY GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION AS TO JULIO ABANDONMENT — CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(A)

The petitioner first alleges that Julio abandoned Tiffany and Elena, respectively, within the meaning of CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(A). In the CT Page 12005-bc absence of evidence to the contrary, applying the requisite legal standards and construing the statute in compliance with the mandate of § 17a-112(q), the court finds this matter in favor of the petitioner.

CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(A) provides for the termination of parental rights where "[t]he child has been abandoned by the parent in the sense that the CT Page 12005-co parent has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of the child . . ."

"Abandonment focuses on the parent's conduct . . . General Statutes [§ 17a-112(j)(3)(A)] defines abandonment as the fail[ure] to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of a child. . . . Attempts to achieve contact with a child, telephone calls, the sending of cards and gifts, and financial support are indicia of interest, concern or responsibility for the welfare of a child . . . Abandonment occurs where a parent fails to visit a child, does not display love or affection for the child, does not personally interact with the child, and demonstrates no concern for the child's welfare . . . § 17a-112(b)(1) does not contemplate a sporadic showing of the indicia of interest, concern or responsibility for the welfare of a child . . . The commonly understood obligations of parenthood entail these minimum attributes; (1) express love and affection for the child; (2) express personal concern over the health, education and general well-being of the child; (3) the duty to supply the necessary food, clothing and medical care: (4) the duty to provide an adequate domicile; and (5) the duty to furnish social and religious guidance." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Deana E., 61 Conn.App. 185, 193, 763 A.2d 37 (2000).

The clear and convincing evidence related to Julio's conduct reveals that, from 10/30/03 through 4/23/04, the respondent father failed "to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of the child[ren] . . ." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Deana E., 61 Conn.App. 185, 193, 763 A.2d 37 (2000).

The clear and convincing evidence shows that, from 10/30/03 through 4/23/04, Julio failed to maintain contact with his children or with DCF. He last visited his daughters in 7/03. He has failed to maintain contact with DCF despite its best efforts.

From 10/30/03 through 4/23/04, Julio failed to send any cards or gifts or other communications to his children, and failed to maintain regular contact with DCF to inquire about the well being of his children.

From 10/30/03 through 4/23/04, Julio has failed to attend ACRs.

DCF social worker Gonzalez testified that he had seen Julio in SCJM on several occasions, the last occasion being 7/26/04. On that date, Gonzalez indicated that he spoke to Julio concerning the case and offered Julio the opportunity to visit Tiffany and Elena. Julio indicated that he had transportation difficulties. Gonzalez offered him transportation for visitation and handed him a business card with the DCF telephone number that he could call in order to contact a social worker to set up a visitation schedule with his daughters. On 8/10/04, Gonzalez followed up on the conversation by sending Julio and his attorney a letter encouraging him to contact DCF and arrange a visitation schedule.

At the TPR trial, Gonzalez testified that Julio has failed to contact him since 7/26/04 and did not take advantage of the opportunity Gonzalez offered to visit Tiffany and Elena.

The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Julio has failed to provide financial support for his daughters.

The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Julio has consistently indicated to DCF that he cannot be a reunification resource for Tiffany and Elena.

Julio has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of his daughters as evidenced by his CT Page 12005-bd lack of involvement in visits, medical appointments, and school functions, his failure to support his daughters and by his failure to inquire and follow up on their situation.

Based upon all of the above, it is clear that Julio has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of Tiffany and Elena.

When the adjudicatory date of 10/30/03 is applied, the evidence in this matter clearly and convincingly establishes that Julio has failed the test of meeting "[t]he commonly understood obligations of parenthood" identified by In re Deana E., supra, 61 Conn.App. 193. Accordingly, based on clear and convincing evidence presented in this case, the court finds that the petitioner has met its burden of proving that Julio has abandoned Tiffany and Elena, respectively, within the meaning of § 17a-112(j)(3)(A).

PARENTAL FAILURE TO REHABILITATE — CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B)

The petitioner State of Connecticut and DCF alleges that Julio's parental rights should be terminated because he has failed to achieve rehabilitation within the meaning of CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B). As the children have been adjudicated neglected, the critical issue for this court is whether the respondent father has achieved rehabilitation sufficient to render him able to care for his children. Applying the requisite legal standards and construing the statute in compliance with the mandate of CGS § 117a-112(q), the court finds this issue in favor of the petitioner.

CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B) provides that parental rights may be terminated by the Superior Court as to the parent of a child who "(i) has been found by the . . . Court to have been neglected or uncared for in a prior proceeding, or (ii) is found to be neglected or uncared for and has been in the custody of the commissioner for at least fifteen months and the parent of such child has been provided specific steps to take to facilitate the return of the child to the parent pursuant to section 46b-129 and has failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable time, considering the age and needs of the child, such parent could assume a responsible position in the life of the child."

"Personal rehabilitation as used in [Section 17a-112] CT Page 12005-cp refers to the restoration of a parent to his or her former constructive and useful role as a parent . . . [The statute] requires the trial court . . . to find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the level of rehabilitation [she] has achieved, if any, falls short of that which would reasonably encourage a belief that at some future date [she] can assume a responsible position in [her] child's life. (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted) In re Eden F., 250 Conn. 674, 706, 741 A.2d 873 (1999) . . . [I]n assessing rehabilitation, the critical issue is not whether the parent has improved [her] ability to manage [her] own life, but rather whether [she] has gained the ability to care for the particular needs of the child at issue." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Sarah Ann K., supra, 57 Conn.App. 448. See also In re Ashley S., supra, 61 Conn.App. 665; In re Amneris P., supra, 66 Conn.App. 384-85.

Section 17a-112(q) establishes that the provisions of CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B) "shall be liberally construed in the best interests of any child for whom a petition under this section has been filed."

Several aspects of the clear and convincing evidence in this case compel the conclusion that Julio has yet to achieve a sufficient "level of rehabilitation . . . which would reasonably encourage a belief that at some future date [he] can assume a responsible position in [his children's lives]." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Sarah Ann K., supra, 57 Conn.App. 448 . . . See In re Daniel C., supra, 63 Conn.App. 354; In re Ashley S., supra, 61 Conn.App. 668. First, the credible evidence in this case, presented through the TPR social study, exhibits, and the witnesses' testimony at the TPR trial, clearly and convincingly establishes that the respondent father has not achieved CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B) rehabilitation. The court credits the DCF reports and the testimony, which showed that Julio has been unable to achieve his rehabilitation.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio's issues are those CT Page 12005-be of domestic violence, substance abuse, gross parenting deficits and an abject failure to involve himself in his daughters' lives.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that, on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court ordered specific steps for Julio. Additionally, specific steps were issued in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.) on 9/5/02. Julio signed these steps on the same day.

Keep all appointments set by or with DCF. Cooperate with DCF home visits, announced and unannounced, and visits by the children's court-appointed attorney and/or guardian ad litem.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has failed to comply with this step.

Keep children's whereabouts and your own whereabouts known to DCF, your attorney, and the attorney for the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has complied with this step, in that, DCF knows where he resides. However, Julio has failed to remain in contact with DCF personnel as required.

Participate in parenting counseling and make progress toward identified treatment goals.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has failed to comply with this step.

He failed to remain in contact with DCF and submit himself for referrals and counseling.

He has repeatedly indicated to DCF that he is not a reunification resource for Tiffany and Elena.

Accept and cooperate with in-home support services referred by DCF:

There is no evidence that Julio was referred to any in-home support services for Tiffany and Elena.

Submit to substance abuse assessment and follow recommendations regarding treatment, including inpatient treatment if necessary, aftercare and relapse prevention. CT Page 12005-bf The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio did not comply with this step.

Submit to random drug testing: time and method of the testing shall be at the discretion of DCF.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio did not comply with this step.

Submit to recommended service providers for parenting/individual/family counseling, in-home support services and/or substance abuse assessment/treatment.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has failed to comply with this step, in that he has failed to submit to a substance abuse assessment.

There is no evidence that DCF referred Julio to a parent aide program. However, he failed to remain in contact with DCF and submit himself for referrals and counseling.

Cooperate with court-ordered evaluations or testing.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has complied with this step. Sign releases authorizing DCF to communicate with service providers to monitor attendance, cooperation, and progress toward identified goals, and for use in future proceedings before this court.

There was no evidence presented indicating that Julio did not comply with this step.

Secure and/or maintain adequate housing and legal income.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Julio has adequate housing and remains employed.

No substance abuse.

DCF was unable to determine whether Julio complied with this step due CT Page 12005-bg to his failure to remain involved with DCF and cooperate with a substance abuse assessment.

Consistently and timely meet and address the child's physical, educational, medical, or emotional needs, including, but not limited to, keeping the child's appointments with her medical, psychological, psychiatric, or educational providers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Make all necessary child-care arrangements insuring that the child is adequately supervised and cared for by appropriate caretakers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Immediately advise DCF of any changes in the composition of the household to ensure that the change does not compromise the health and safety of the children.

There was no evidence presented indicating that Julio did not comply with this step.

This court concludes that Julio failed to correct the factors that led to the initial commitment of his daughters, in as far as he is concerned. The clear and convincing evidence reveals that, from 10/30/03, and continuing through the time of trial, Julio has not been available to take part in his daughters' lives, and, based on his history of non-involvement, he will never be consistently available to Tiffany or Elena. The credible evidence in this case clearly and convincingly shows that Julio has refused to be a resource for his daughters since the OTC was obtained on 6/28/03. He has not even seen his daughters since 7/03 and failed to participate in visitation. Julio has failed to express any interest in his daughters to DCF. There is no evidence that he has undertaken any counseling programs in order to rehabilitate himself and assume the responsibilities of safe, responsible and nurturing fatherhood. When one also considers the high level of care, patience and discipline that Tiffany and Elena's needs and special needs will require from their caregiver, it is patently clear that Julio is not in a better position to parent his daughters than he was at the time of their commitment, and still remains without the qualities necessary to CT Page 12005-bh successfully parent them. Effectively, Julio is no better able "to resume the responsibilities of parenting at the time of filing the termination petition than [he] had been at the time of the child[ren]'s commitment." In re Hector L., supra, 53 Conn.App. 367. See In re Vincent D., supra, 65 Conn.App. 670 ("[i]n determining whether a parent has achieved sufficient personal rehabilitation, a court may consider whether the parent has corrected the factors that led to the initial commitment, regardless of whether those factors were included in specific expectations ordered by the court or imposed by the department"); see also In re Michael M., supra, 29 Conn.App. 125; In re Migdalia M., supra, 6 Conn.App. 206.

Even if Julio was finally capable of realizing and correcting his problems, it would be exceedingly rash to expect him to be able to parent his daughters at any time in the near future. His past history as their custodial parent was a grim one. While in his care, Tiffany and Elena were beaten and abused by Barbara and Charlene. Barbara even kicked Elena in the face. Tiffany and Elena lived in a hovel, with 5 children sleeping in 1 room. Police described the home as being "in deplorable condition." They indicated that there was no lighting in the children's bedroom or in the bathroom and pantry area and that there were no smoke detectors in the residence. The clear and convincing evidence also showed that Tiffany and Elena were lousy and had been banned from school until Julio and Barbara provided proof that their personal vermin infestation had been dispersed.

While in Julio's care, Tiffany was sexually abused by a friend of Barbara.

Obviously, even if Julio expressed any desire to be a reunification resource for his daughters, he would have to successfully complete various referrals and programs designed to rehabilitate him. He would need to establish himself in the community and show, over a substantial period of time, that he has conquered the demons which have plagued him. He would have to obtain appropriate housing and an appreciation of safe, responsible and nurturing parenting skills before reunification could be contemplated. Additionally, Barbara and Charlene's continued presence in his home would make reunification problematic, in view of their past abuse of Tiffany and Elena. Unfortunately, the clear and convincing evidence shows that Tiffany and Elena's needs for permanence and stability would not allow for the time necessary for Julio to attempt rehabilitation, even if he wished to do so.

Given the age, sensibilities, needs and special needs of the children involved, and given Julio's failure and/or inability to correct his CT Page 12005-bi deviancies, it would be unreasonable to conclude that he would be able to achieve rehabilitation from his various issues so as to be able to serve as a safe, responsible and nurturing parent within a reasonable time.

Tiffany and Elena need parents who are able to effectively care for them now. They cannot wait for the remote possibility that their biological father might overcome his parenting deficits and other issues and acquire sufficient parenting ability to care for his daughters one day. These children are unable to wait for their father to show that he has rehabilitated himself and is ready to assume his parental role. It is fundamental that "in assessing rehabilitation, the critical issue is not whether the parent improved [his] ability to manage [his] own life, but rather whether [he] has gained the ability to care for the particular needs of the [children] at issue." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Amneris P., supra, 66 Conn.App. 384. Accordingly, based on the clear and convincing evidence presented in this case, the court finds that the petitioner has proved that Julio failed to achieve rehabilitation pursuant to CGS § 17a-112(j)(3)(B).

Tiffany is 11 years old and has been in foster care since 3/27/03. She has been the subject of 2 OTCs and has been returned to Lisa's care and custody once. She was subjected to physical and sexual abuse while residing with her parents. Since being placed in the care and custody of DCF, Tiffany has been in 8 placements. She has struggled with various issues, including defiance, oppositionality, enuresis and basic hygiene. She has demonstrated difficult behaviors while she has been in foster homes, including fighting with other children and assaulting a foster parent.

Elena is 9 years old and has been in foster care since 3/27/03. She has been the subject of 2 OTCs and has been returned to Lisa's care and custody once. Since being placed in the care and custody of DCF, Elena has been in 8 placements. She has a history of substantial behavioral problems. Her behaviors include their, defiance, tantruming, yelling, cursing, destroying property, physical aggression, and trying to hurt herself and others. These behaviors have resulted in the disruption of some previous placements. Additionally, these behaviors have also resulted in Elena being admitted to partial hospitalization programs on 3 occasions and being hospitalized in 8/04.

After visiting with Lisa, Elena reported she has been upset because she knew that her mother continued in a relationship with Daniel. Elena continues to report that she fears Daniel, dislikes him and is in fear for her mother's safety. CT Page 12005-bj

In 2000, Tiffany disclosed that she had been sexually abused by 2 perpetrators while in the care and custody of her father. Subsequently, she also disclosed that both she and Elena had been sexually abused by Daniel. Both children later recanted their accusations concerning Daniel, however, in 2004, Elena reported to a foster mother that Daniel had sexually abused her. Elena has continued to indicate that she fears Daniel and does not like him. Elena has disclosed that she has nightmares about him.

Elena has been diagnosed with PTSD. Presently, she has been prescribed Tenex to address this. Previously, she had been prescribed Fluoxentine. Presently, Elena attends weekly therapy with Julie Danis of Child Guidance in New London. Previously, Elena attended weekly therapy sessions with Charee Green of Child Guidance in New London. Ms. Green reported that Elena has shown some progress and talked more during her therapy sessions. Ms. Green also reported that Elena stated that she did want to go home with mother.

DCF has described Elena as very manipulative and indicated that she frequently engages in controlling behaviors, and is passive-aggressive. On occasion, Elena has tantrums that include throwing her belongings around the room, kicking walls and doors. Elena has also displayed poor behaviors such as not listening, taking things without permission from her foster homes and school, and being verbally disrespectful to her foster parents. DCF also describes her as very smart, but stubborn.

Continued foster care is detrimental to these children's development, they require a permanent home that is safe and nurturing.

Based on all the facts presented in this case, the court finds that ascertaining whether Julio is capable of rehabilitation is not foreseeable within a reasonable time. In re Daniel C., supra, 63 Conn.App. 354. In reaching this conclusion, the court has analyzed the respondent father's parenting deficits as they relate to his daughters' needs for a safe, responsible and nurturing parent who can meet their requirements and needs for emotional stability, security and consistency.

The court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that to allow Julio further time to rehabilitate himself, if that were possible, and to assume a responsible position in the lives of his daughters would not be in the best interests of Tiffany or Elena.

DISPOSITION CT Page 12005-bk

As the court has concluded that statutory grounds for termination exist, it next "must determine whether termination is in the best interests of the child." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Quanitra M., supra, 60 Conn.App. 103; see also In re Valerie D., 223 Conn. 492, 511 and n. 15, 613 A.2d 478 (1992). In this dispositional phase the court has considered the evidence and testimony related to circumstances and events through the close of evidence. Practice Book § 35a-9.

SEVEN STATUTORY FINDINGS

The court has made each of the seven written factual findings required by CGS § 17a-112(k) based upon the clear and convincing evidence presented at trial, and has considered the evidence relevant to each of these findings in deciding whether to terminate parental rights. See In re Jonathon G., 63 Conn.App. 516, 528, 777 A.2d 695 (2001).

TIMELINESS, NATURE AND EXTENT OF SERVICES — CGS § 17a-112(k)(1)

This court finds by clear and convincing evidence that DCF has provided reasonable efforts in the past to reunify the children with the respondent mother. Those services were ordered in a timely manner and were appropriate for the circumstances at hand.

The State proved by clear and convincing evidence that DCF provided the following services to the respondent mother Lisa, or that the following services were provided to her:

DCF: Case management services, including visitation and service agreements

Centro de la Communidad-Individual Therapy, Parenting Education and Support

CFA-Individual Therapy

CFA-Safety Options and Recovery (SOAR)-Domestic Violence Counseling

CFA (Smith-Bent)-Supervised Visitation and Integrative Parenting Program

Community Health Center (CHC)-Medications CT Page 12005-bl

Evaluations with Dr. Connolly

Madonna Place-Visitation and Parenting Counseling

UCFS-IFP Services

Considered carefully, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF made reasonable efforts to reunite the respondent mother Lisa with the children. In re Antonio M., supra, 56 Conn.App. 547; see also In re Sheila J., 62 Conn.App. 470, 478-79, 771 A.2d 244 (2001).

The State proved by clear and convincing evidence that DCF offered or provided the following services to Julio, or that the following services were provided to him:

DCF: Case management services, including visitation, assistance with transportation for visitation and service agreements

CFA (Smith-Bent)-Supervised Visitation

Evaluations with Dr. Connolly

Parent Aide referral

Substance abuse evaluation, testing and treatment

The clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF was unable to provide additional services to Julio due to his failure to maintain contact with DCF and his refusal to engage in the services.

Considered carefully, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to reunite Julio with the children. In re Antonio M., supra, 56 Conn.App. 547; see also In re Sheila J., supra, 62 Conn.App. 478-79.

Based on the clear and convincing evidence of the circumstances present in this case, the court finds that neither respondent parent is able and/or willing to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. C.G.S. § CT Page 12005-bm 17a-112(k)(1). Their serious issues clearly and convincingly make them unable and/or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. In re Amelia W., supra, 62 Conn.App. 504-05; see In re Ebony H., supra, 68 Conn.App. 350.

The court further finds that the clear and convincing evidence presented in this case indicates that both Julio and Lisa were aware of their issues and deficits and had received specific steps addressing said issues. However, the clear and convincing evidence also shows that despite this notification, both parents remained unable and/or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification services.

At the time of the issuance of the OTC on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court found that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from their home.

On 9/5/02, in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 10/30/03, in SCJM, (Quinn, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/19/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF made reasonable efforts to achieve the PP and to make it possible for the children to return home.

This court also finds by clear and convincing evidence that further efforts at reunification remain not appropriate for each of the respondent parents with regard to each of their children.

REUNIFICATION EFFORTS PURSUANT TO FEDERAL CT Page 12005-bn LAW — CGS § 17a-112(k)(2)

This court finds that the clear and convincing evidence in this matter proves that Lisa and Julio are each presently unable and/or unwilling to benefit from such reunification services as are contemplated by the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, as amended.

Considered carefully, the clear and convincing evidence in this matter shows that DCF made reasonable efforts to reunify the children with Lisa. The clear and convincing evidence also shows that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to reunite Julio with his daughters. In re Antonio M., supra, 56 Conn.App. 547; see also In re Sheila J., supra, 62 Conn.App. 478-79 (2002).

The court further finds that the clear and convincing evidence presented in this case indicates that both Julio and Lisa were aware of their issues and deficits and had received specific steps addressing said issues. However, the clear and convincing evidence also shows that, despite this notification, both parents remained unable and/or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification services.

At the time of the issuance of the OTC on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court found that DCF was unable to make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from their home.

On 9/5/02, in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/27/03, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 10/30/03, in SCJM, (Quinn, J.), the court found that DCF had made reasonable efforts to prevent or CT Page 12005-bo eliminate the need to remove the children from the home.

On 3/19/04, in SCJM, (Jongbloed, J.), the court found that DCF made reasonable efforts to achieve the PP and to make it possible for the children to return home.

This court also finds by clear and convincing evidence that further efforts at reunification remain not appropriate for each of the respondent parents with regard to each of their children.

Based on the clear and convincing evidence of the circumstances present in this case, the court finds that neither respondent parent is able and/or willing to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. C.G.S. § 17a-112(j)(1). Their serious issues clearly and convincingly make them unable and/or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts. In re Amelia W., supra, 62 Conn.App. 504-05; see In re Ebony H., supra, 68 Conn.App. 350.

COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDERS — CGS § 17a-112(k)(3)

The clear and convincing evidence shows that, on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court ordered specific steps for Lisa. She signed those specific steps on 7/11/02 and 9/5/02. Additionally, the court ordered specific steps for Lisa on behalf of Daniela on 4/8/03 in CPS (Trombley, J.). Lisa signed the CPS set of specific steps on 4/6/03.

Keep all appointments set by or with DCF. Cooperate with DCF home visits, announced and unannounced, and visits by the children's court-appointed attorney and/or guardian ad litem.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Keep children's whereabouts and your own CT Page 12005-bp whereabouts known to DCF, your attorney, and the attorney for the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Participate in parenting and individual counseling and make progress toward identified treatment goals.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with this step.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa attended Centre de la Comunidad for individual therapy, parenting education and support. The program director, Adriana Vazquez, testified that she saw Lisa for individual therapy, starting in 4/04. Vazquez indicated that Lisa's attendance was sporadic, and that she was not compliant with her medication regime, despite admitting to a past diagnosis of major depression.

Vazquez also saw Daniel for substance abuse treatment.

Vasquez testified that she discussed domestic violence with Lisa. She indicated that Lisa reported only 1 instance of domestic violence, that she indicated that domestic violence was not an ongoing issue, that she refused to accept the impact of domestic violence on the children, and that she refused to accept responsibility for any of the domestic violence that occurred while she had custody of the children. Vazquez reported that Lisa felt guilty for leaving the children with Julio and their subsequent physical and sexual abuse, while in his care.

Vazquez also testified that Lisa indicated that Tiffany and Elena did not like Daniel due to jealousy. She indicated that she did not believe the children's reports that Daniel had sexually abused them.

Vazquez indicated that she last saw Lisa on 4/27/05, CT Page 12005-bq and that Lisa had subsequently failed to appear for therapy.

Vazquez opined that reunification was not appropriate due to Lisa's mental health status. She indicated that Lisa's failure to comply with her medication regimen impacted her ability to become emotionally stable.

Rebecca Frost, Lisa's clinician at CFA, indicated that Lisa had been referred to CFA for its domestic violence program in 4/03. She testified that, as a result of the intake, CFA determined that Lisa had significant domestic violence, mental health and physical health issues.

Frost, who also saw Lisa for individual therapy, testified that Lisa failed to improve while under CFA's care. Frost indicated that Lisa showed no understanding of domestic violence and failed to apply what she had learned. She failed to grasp the effect of domestic violence on her children, insisted that her children had always felt safe in her home and denied that her children showed symptomology indicative of exposure to domestic violence. She minimized her own abuse and continued to live with her abuser, Daniel.

Frost testified that Lisa knew that Tiffany refused to return home while Daniel was still there. However, Lisa continued to deny that Tiffany held this position, but was angry that Tiffany had said it.

Frost indicated that Lisa had significant anxiety and depression. She had been diagnosed with PTSD and showed PTSD symptoms. She had been prescribed various psychotropic medications, yet admitted that she was not compliant with her medication regimen.

Frost concluded that Lisa lacked insight into her own problems and those of her children, and did not recommend that Lisa have unsupervised visits with her children.

Frost indicated that Lisa was discharged from treatment in 2/04-3/04 due to her failures to appear. Frost testified that Lisa was no better when discharged than she had been at the commencement of therapy. CT Page 12005-br

Prior to her discharge, Lisa attended and completed the SOAR program. Frost testified that Lisa never read the material that she received at the SOAR program.

Frost also referred Lisa to the Community Health Center (CHC) for assistance with her medications.

The court also notes that Dr. Connolly recommended that Lisa adhere to her medication regimen.

Karen Cushing, a community worker in the CFA (Smith-Bent) Supervised Visitation and Integrative Parenting Program, testified that she had supervised visits between Lisa and the girls and provided parent education for Lisa from 1/05 through the date of the trial.

Cushing testified that Lisa would berate Tiffany during visits, causing the children to become upset. She would display visible anger.

Cushing indicated that, although Lisa showed some progress, she still needed to improve her parenting skills. Her progress was insufficient to allow her anything other than supervised visitation with her children.

Cushing testified that Lisa required coaching that was beyond the usual.

Marsha Quinn, Visitation Specialist and Assistant Program Director at Madonna Place, testified that Lisa had supervised visits with the children at her facility from 11/17/03 though 1/12/04, and that Lisa was unresponsive to the program's parenting recommendations. Additionally, Madonna Place records that were put into evidence indicate that Lisa exhibited a pattern of inappropriate behavior and an abject failure to comply with Madonna Place rules.

Lisa repeatedly used profanity, argued with Madonna Place personnel, and responded negatively and inappropriately to the children. CT Page 12005-bs

Madonna Place records indicated the following:

On November 24th this monitor met with [Lisa] prior to her second visit. I sat down with her to talk about concerns that occurred during the first visit. I spoke with her about her negative reaction and sarcasm when the girls went into the visitation room and started to play basketball instead of paying attention to her. [Lisa] told this monitor that it hurt her feelings when they did this and she admitted that she was upset. When I told her that she could have gone over to them and that I had mentioned this to her, [Lisa] said, "I don't like it when people tell me what to do." I spoke to her about the demeaning way she told Tiffany that she is not the parent, and how the girls sat perfectly still as if they were afraid. [Lisa] responded by saying that her daughter is parentified. She stated that I can ask anyone about this and they will tell me the same thing. I told [Lisa] that this is something that is beyond Tiffany's control and if she has concerns, she needs to speak with her social worker. When I asked her why she made the negative comment about Tiffany's teeth, [Lisa] got defensive and told me that this is what happened at Smith Bent. I explained that I am here to work with her and to make suggestions that will help her parent and interact positively with her children. [Lisa] said that this was not going to work and that "these visits are ridiculous."

On December 15th this monitor met with [Lisa] to go over her monthly report review. One area of concern that I tried to discuss with Lisa, related to her negative reaction to Elena during the November 24th visit. I told [Lisa] that Elena only wanted to look at the jacks and suggested that they still could have played the game of Uno together. Instead, Lisa put the game away. After a few minutes Tiffany wanted to play and Lisa played the game with her and did not ask Elena if she wanted to play. I told [Lisa] that she appeared upset that Elena chose to look at the jacks. This was evident when she would not allow Elena to join them later on. I let her know that her behavior was inappropriate as she taunted Elena by moving the tissue paper around in such a way that Elena could not use it. [Lisa] informed this monitor CT Page 12005-bt that "This is not going to work." She let me know that she would be talking to her social worker about this and I encouraged her to do so.

On January 5, 2004, Tiffany shut down emotionally after [Lisa] yelled at her for going to someone's house (Marilyn) and talking with her. Tiffany attempted to tell Lisa that Sam had given her permission to do this. [Lisa] was very negative and at times argumentative during this visit. She appeared to be more concerned with how Tiffany was making her feel rather than how Tiffany was feeling. Her interaction with Tiffany was inappropriate. After discussing this visit with my supervisor, Peg Getchell, we decided that we could not continue to support visits that may be detrimental to the emotional stability of the children.

Peg Getchell and I met with [Lisa] on the following week. We explained to her that we were terminating the visits after the incident with Tiffany on January 5th. We further explained that she has continuously broken guidelines and interacted with her children in a negative manner and although our goal has been to help her, she has been unwilling to work with us. [Lisa] walked out with Peg Getchell. Peg informed me that [Lisa] walked out quickly and as soon as she got outside she said started shouting profanities, saying "This f.ing place. I just wasted a half hour coming here." She got into the back of her car and took out a long stick. Peg was watching her from inside the building. [Lisa] looked at Peg and yelled, "What's your f.ing problem." [Lisa] got into her car and left. This behavior only served to reinforce out decision to terminate services with [Lisa].

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to make progress towards identified treatment goals.

Accept and cooperate with in-home support services referred by DCF:

There is no evidence that Lisa was referred to any in-home support services for Tiffany and Elena. However, the clear and convincing evidence shows that DCF referred her to IFP in reference to Natasha. Baum CT Page 12005-bu testified that she found Daniel on the premises and discovered that he had been supervising Natasha. After ascertaining from DCF that Daniel should not have been on the premises and should not have been supervising Natasha, Baum made this clear to Lisa. She testified that Lisa was angry, overwhelmed and upset at DCF restrictions. Lisa denied the validity of the sexual molestation accusations leveled at Daniel by Tiffany and Elena.

Baum expressed concern at Lisa's harshness towards Natasha and noted her concern about Lisa's parenting skills. Baum testified that she made suggestions to Lisa concerning changing her parenting techniques. Baum reported that Lisa failed to apply her suggestions.

Submit to recommended service providers for parenting/individual/family counseling, in-home support services and/or substance abuse assessment/treatment:

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with this step.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has completed the SOAR program.

Lisa failed to complete the following programs and/or referrals:

Centro de la Communidad-Individual Therapy, Parenting Education and Support

CFA-Individual Therapy

CFA (Smith-Bent)-Supervised Visitation and Integrative Parenting Program

Community Health Center (CHC)-Medications

Madonna Place-Visitation and Parenting Counseling

Obtain and/or cooperate with a restraining/protective order and/or other appropriate safety plan as approved by DCF to avoid further domestic violence incidents. CT Page 12005-bv The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with this step. Lisa has allowed Daniel to remain in her home despite his abuse of her and her children, and the children's claims that he sexually abused them.

Sign releases authorizing DCF to communicate with service providers to monitor attendance, cooperation, and progress toward identified goals, and for use in future proceedings before this court

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Secure and/or maintain adequate housing and legal income.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Lisa has adequate housing. However, she was not employed as of the time of the trial.

No substance abuse.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

No involvement/further involvement with the criminal justice system. Cooperate with the Office of Adult Probation or parole officer and comply with conditions of probation or parole.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Consistently and timely meet and address the child's physical, educational, medical, or emotional needs, including, but not limited to, keeping the CT Page 12005-bw child's appointments with her medical, psychological, psychiatric, or educational providers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Make all necessary child-care arrangements insuring that the child is adequately supervised and cared for by appropriate caretakers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Immediately advise DCF of any changes in the composition of the household to ensure that the change does not compromise the health and safety of the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa failed to comply with this step. She allowed Daniel to move into her residence without informing DCF.

Cooperate with children's therapy.

There is no evidence that Lisa was asked to cooperate with the children's therapy.

Visit the children as often as DCF permits.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has complied with this step.

Refrain from corporal punishment of the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa failed to comply with this step. Tiffany has disclosed that Lisa had physically disciplined her with implements. CT Page 12005-bx

The clear and convincing evidence shows that, on 6/28/02 in SCJM (Sweinton, J.), the court ordered specific steps for Julio. Additionally, specific steps were issued in SCJM (Jongbloed, J.) on 9/5/02. Julio signed these steps on the same day.

Keep all appointments set by or with DCF. Cooperate with DCF home visits, announced and unannounced, and visits by the children's court-appointed attorney and/or guardian ad litem.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has failed to comply with this step.

Keep children's whereabouts and your own whereabouts known to DCF, your attorney, and the attorney for the children.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has complied with this step, in that, DCF knows where he resides. However, Julio has failed to remain in contact with DCF personnel as required.

Participate in parenting counseling and make progress toward identified treatment goals.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has failed to comply with this step.

He failed to remain in contact with DCF and submit himself for referrals and counseling.

He has repeatedly indicated to DCF that he is not a reunification resource for Tiffany and Elena.

Accept and cooperate with in-home support services referred by DCF. CT Page 12005-by

There is no evidence that Julio was referred to any in-home support services for Tiffany and Elena.

Submit to substance abuse assessment and follow recommendations regarding treatment including inpatient treatment if necessary, aftercare and relapse prevention.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio did not comply with this step.

Submit to random drug testing: time and method of the testing shall be at the discretion of DCF.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio did not comply with this step.

Submit to recommended service providers for parenting/individual/family counseling, in-home support services and/or substance abuse assessment/treatment.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has failed to comply with this step, in that he has failed to submit to a substance abuse assessment.

There is no evidence that DCF referred Julio to a parent aide program. However, he failed to remain in contact with DCF and submit himself for referrals and counseling.

Cooperate with court-ordered evaluations or testing.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Julio has complied with this step.

Sign releases authorizing DCF to communicate with service providers to monitor attendance, cooperation, and progress toward identified CT Page 12005-cz goals, and for use in future proceedings before this court.

There was no evidence presented indicating that Julio did not comply with this step.

Secure and/or maintain adequate housing and legal income.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Julio has adequate housing and remains employed.

No substance abuse.

DCF was unable to determine whether Julio complied with this step due to his failure to remain involved with DCF and cooperate with a substance abuse assessment.

Consistently and timely meet and address the child's physical, educational, medical, or emotional needs, including, but not limited to, keeping the child's appointments with her medical, psychological, psychiatric, or educational providers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Make all necessary child-care arrangements insuring that the child is adequately supervised and cared for by appropriate caretakers.

This step is not applicable as Tiffany and Elena have remained in DCF care since 6/28/03.

Immediately advise DCF of any changes in the composition of the household to ensure that the change CT Page 12005-ca does not compromise the health and safety of the children.

There was no evidence presented indicating that Julio did not comply with this step.

THE CHILDREN'S FEELINGS AND EMOTIONAL TIES — CGS § 17A-112(K)(4)

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Tiffany and Elena recognize Julio and Lisa as their parents.

Tiffany and Elena have asked for visitation with their father. However, he has failed to visit them since 7/03. The children are disappointed and have told DCF that his failure to visit is due to Barbara's wish that he have no contact with them.

Lisa has continued to have weekly visitation with Tiffany and Elena.

Tiffany and Elena's relationship with their mother is a strained and difficult one. The clear and convincing evidence indicates that the girls fear and distrust Daniel and are concerned for their mother's safety and for their own as well. They are upset that Lisa continues a relationship with him and angry that she has apparently taken his side against them.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Lisa has behaved inappropriately during visitation. Karen Cushing, Marcia Quinn and DCF social worker Gonzalez all testified as to Lisa's continued negative behaviors towards the children and rule violations during visitation. Lisa berates and hectors the children during visitation. Tiffany appears to bear the brunt of Lisa's ire. The respondent mother blames Tiffany for making disclosures to the authorities concerning abuse.

Lisa's conduct has reduced both children to tears on at least 1 occasion, and has caused visitation monitors and DCF personnel to intercede and end visits early. On at least 6 different occasions, Tiffany has refused to visit Lisa, citing her mother's abusive behavior as the reason. CT Page 12005-cb

Elena's relationship with Lisa is somewhat better than that of her sister, despite Lisa's ready frustration with Elena's behavior. In Dr. Connolly's 2003 evaluation, he noted Tiffany's observation that Elena was "still trying to work things out with Lisa."

As of the date of the TPR social study, Elena had indicated to her therapist and to DCF social worker Gonzalez that she wanted to return home to Lisa.

Elena indicated to Dr. Connolly that she did not wish to live with her father, due to Barbara's physical abuse.

In the past, Tiffany has expressed ambivalence concerning her future placement. She has indicated that she wished to return to Lisa, and she has expressed a desire to be adopted. She has expressed a desire to see her mother, yet she has refused to visit Lisa after difficult visits. Most recently, Tiffany has expressed a desire to be adopted by Sandra.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Tiffany and Elena have a relationship with each other. They have sibling visits and Tiffany has had an overnight visit with Elena at Jana's residence. However, it is evident that placing them together is not in either child's best interest, as they vie for attention and cause disruptions.

Tiffany was close to Daniela, and looked out for her well-being when they were together in Lisa's home.

While placed in the safe home, Tiffany visited with Natasha and MGM.

AGE OF THE CHILDREN — CGS § 17A-112(K)(5)

The court makes the below listed findings of the ages of the children by clear and convincing evidence.

Tiffany: 11 years and 10 months old, DOB: 11/27/93 CT Page 12005-cc

Elena: 9 years and 6 months old, DOB: 03/10/96

They have been in foster care since 3/27/03.

PARENTS' EFFORTS TO ADJUST THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES — CGS § 17A-112(K)(6)

The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that Lisa has not been able to make realistic and sustained efforts to conform her conduct to acceptable parental standards. Although DCF has referred her to rehabilitative services throughout the pendency of this case, the clear and convincing evidence indicates that she has essentially failed to complete any of them, with the exception of the SOAR program. Furthermore, the clear and convincing evidence shows that she failed to read the materials from the SOAR program.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to undertake the individual therapy, including psychotropic medication, that she so desperately needs. Lisa's service providers have strongly emphasized to her that she must participate in individual therapy. Yet, she has failed to fully take advantage of the services offered through Rebecca Frost at CFA, and through Adriana Vazquez at Centro de la Comunidad. DCF social worker Gonzalez's testimony concerning his discussions with Lisa about her need for individual therapy make it clear that Lisa was aware of her need for individual therapy.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has been unable to improve her parenting technique during the children's commitment to DCF. The testimony of the visitation monitors and DCF social worker Gonzalez shows that Lisa continues to behave inappropriately with Tiffany and Elena, to the children's obvious distress and detriment.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has continued a relationship with Daniel, despite the allegations that he sexually abused both Tiffany and Elena, and despite the fact that he has abused Lisa throughout their relationship. The testimony of the IFP CT Page 12005-cd clinician, Laurie Baum, showed that Lisa allowed Daniel to remain in her home and supervise Daniela, despite DCF instructions to the contrary.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that, despite DCF's best efforts including referrals and services in the past, Lisa has been unable and/or unwilling to apply what she has been taught in order to become a safe, nurturing and responsible parent for her children. Karen Cushing of CFA testified that Lisa needed constant coaching as to her parenting skills, and that this coaching was above and beyond the norm. The evidence at the TPR trial clearly and convincingly shows that she fails to understand the effects that her parental shortcomings and deficiencies have had on her children throughout the years. She is obviously unable to care for her children appropriately and to provide them with the safety, care, permanence and stability that they need and deserve.

The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent father Julio has not made realistic and sustained efforts to conform his conduct to acceptable parental standards. His daughters were taken into DCF custody on 3/27/03. Since that date, Julio has refused to play any part in Tiffany and Elena's lives. He has not visited them since 7/03. He has failed to maintained contact with DCF despite its best efforts. He has failed to send any cards or gifts or other communications to his children, and has failed to maintain regular contact with DCF to inquire about the well being of his children.

From 10/30/03 through the date of trial, Julio has failed to attend ACRs.

The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Julio has failed to provide financial support for his daughters.

The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Julio has consistently indicated to DCF that he cannot be a reunification resource for Tiffany and Elena.

Julio has failed to undertake any evaluative or CT Page 12005-ce rehabilitative referrals. He has failed to come forward and involve himself in his children's lives. He has refused to come forward and be a resource for his daughters. He has failed to come forward and embark upon a program of rehabilitation so as to be a safe, nurturing and responsible parent.

Julio also continues to live with his wife, Barbara, who has previously abused Tiffany and Elena.

The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that neither respondent parent has made the changes necessary in his or her lifestyle that would indicate that either respondent parent would be a safe, responsible and nurturing parent for Tiffany or Elena.

The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that to allow either of the respondent parents further time to rehabilitate themselves, if that were possible, and to assume a responsible position in the lives of the children would not be in the best interests of either Tiffany or Elena.

EXTENT TO WHICH THE PARENTS WERE PREVENTED FROM MAINTAINING A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILDREN — CGS § 17A-112(K)(2)

This court finds by clear and convincing evidence that no unreasonable conduct by DCF, foster parents or third parties prevented Lisa or Julio from maintaining a relationship with their children, nor did the economic circumstances of the respondent parents prevent such relationships, although the limitations and restrictions inherent in the foster care system remained in effect.

BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN — CGS § 17a-112(j)(7)

The court is next called upon to determine whether termination of the parental rights of Lisa or Julio would be in Tiffany or Elena's best interests. Applying the appropriate legal standards to the clear and convincing facts of this case, the court finds CT Page 12005-cf this issue in favor of the State of Connecticut and DCF.

The final element of the termination of parental rights statute, § 17a-112(j), requires that before granting a duly noticed petition for such termination, the court must find, "by clear and convincing evidence . . . (2) that termination is in the best interest of the child . . ."

"Termination of parental rights means the complete severance by court order of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child and the child's parent or parents . . . Termination of parental rights is a most serious and sensitive judicial action. In re Barbara J., 215 Conn. 31, 44, 574 A.2d 203 (1990)." (Citation omitted, internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Steven N., 57 Conn.App. 629, 632, 749 A.2d 678 (2000). "[T]he question . . . to be decided in a dispositional phase is whether it is in the best interests of the child to sever the parent-child relationship. That is different from the question of who should have custody of the child if termination of parental rights is determined to CT Page 12005-cq be in the best interests of the child. See Practice Book § 33-5." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Carissa K., 55 Conn.App. 768, 776, 740 A.2d 896 (1999). "In making this determination, the trial court can consider all events occurring prior to the date of the dispositional hearing, including those occurring after the filing of the termination petition." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Kasheema L., 56 Conn.App. 484, 488, 744 A.2d 441, cert. denied, 252 Conn. 945, 747 A.2d 522 (2000).

In determining whether termination of Lisa or Julio's parental rights would be in Tiffany or Elena's best interests, the court has examined multiple relevant factors, including the children's interests in sustained growth, development, well-being, stability and continuity of their environments; their length of stay in foster care; the nature of their relationship with their foster parents and their biological parents; and the degree of contact maintained with their biological parents. In re Alexander C., 60 Conn.App. 555, 559, 760 A.2d 532 (2000); In re Shyina B., 58 Conn.App. 159, 167, 752 A.2d 1139 (2000); In re Savanna M., 55 Conn.App. 807, 816, 740 A.2d 484 (1999). In a matter such as this, the court is further called upon to balance Tiffany and Elena's intrinsic needs for stability and permanency against the benefits of maintaining a connection with either biological parent. See Pamela B. v. Ment, 244 Conn. 296, 314, 709 A.2d 1089 (1998) (child's physical and emotional well-being must be weighed against the interest in preserving family integrity).

"[T]he genetic bond shared by a biological parent and his or her child, although not determinative of the issue of the best interest of the child, is certainly a factor to consider." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Savanna M., 55 Conn.App. 807, 816, 740 A.2d 484 (1999).

Under such scrutiny, the clear and convincing evidence in this matter establishes that it is not in Tiffany or Elena's best interests to continue to maintain any legal relationship with either respondent parent.

Although DCF has referred Lisa to rehabilitative services throughout the pendency of this case, the clear and convincing evidence indicates that she has essentially failed to complete any of them, with the exception of the SOAR program

The clear and convincing evidence shows that Lisa has failed to comply with the vast majority of DCF referrals concerning her mental health issues, domestic violence issues and parenting skills since her children were last committed. Furthermore, the clear and convincing evidence also shows that Lisa was essentially uncooperative with the service providers during the times that she did attend. This is especially true in terms of her individual therapy and her psychotropic CT Page 12005-cg medication. Regretfully, it is apparent that, until Lisa comes to grips with her own issues, she will never be able to be a safe, nurturing and responsible parent for Tiffany and Elena.

The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Lisa has failed to gain insight into becoming a safe, nurturing and responsible parent for Tiffany and Elena. The clear and convincing evidence shows that her judgment and conduct still remain questionable, and have not improved since the girls were taken into DCF care.

The clear and convincing evidence also shows that Lisa has failed to keep her children and herself safe. She continues to maintain her relationship with Daniel. This relationship is clearly an anathema to her relationship with her daughters. The girls have accused Daniel of sexually molesting them. They have also borne witness to his reign of domestic terror and his abuse of Lisa. Yet, Lisa continues to remain with Daniel, to the detriment of Tiffany and Elena. The practical effect of her conduct has been to prioritize her relationship with her paramour over that with her daughters-a fact that has had a devastating effect on Tiffany and Elena.

The respondent mother has effectively chosen her paramour over her children. This decision is but part of the reason behind her parental rights being terminated. Her poor judgment in failing to address her issues and her inability to protect herself and her children is another, more substantial, factor.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Julio has abrogated all his parental responsibilities towards his daughters. He has completely removed himself from their lives, despite their pleas that he not do so. He has not visited Tiffany or Elena since 7/03. He has failed to maintain contact with DCF and he has failed to inquire as to the children's wellbeing. He has failed to support them or to send them cards, gifts or letters.

DCF social worker Gonzalez testified that he had seen Julio in SCJM on several occasions, the last occasion being 7/26/04. On that date, Gonzalez indicated that he spoke to Julio concerning the case and offered Julio the CT Page 12005-ch opportunity to visit Tiffany and Elena. Julio indicated that he had transportation difficulties. Gonzalez offered him transportation for visitation and handed him a business card with the DCF telephone number that he could call in order to contact a social worker to set up a visitation schedule with his daughters. On 8/10/04, Gonzalez followed up on the conversation by sending Julio and his attorney a letter encouraging him to contact DCF and arrange a visitation schedule.

At the TPR trial, Gonzalez testified that Julio has failed to contact him since 7/26/04 and did not take advantage of the opportunity Gonzalez offered to visit Tiffany and Elena.

While in Julio's care, Tiffany and Elena were beaten and abused by Barbara and Charlene. Barbara even kicked Elena in the face. Tiffany and Elena lived in a hovel, with 5 children sleeping in 1 room, Police described the home as being "in deplorable condition." They indicated that there was no lighting in the children's bedroom, or in the bathroom and pantry area and that there were no smoke detectors in the residence. The clear and convincing evidence also showed that Tiffany and Elena were lousy and had been banned from school until Julio and Barbara provided proof that the pestilence had been eradicated.

While in Julio's care, Tiffany was sexually abused by a friend of Barbara.

The clear and convincing evidence shows that the time needed for either Lisa or Julio to attempt to rehabilitate herself or himself and to attempt to establish herself or himself in the community as a safe, nurturing and responsible parent is time that Tiffany and Elena cannot spare.

Lisa and Julio's parental performances clearly and convincingly show that each lacks the attributes and characteristics necessary to fulfill a valid parental role. Their inabilities to successfully address their issues in a timely manner and their failures to successfully address their individual parental deficits clearly and convincingly show that it is unlikely that CT Page 12005-ci either one will ever be able to conform their behaviors to appropriate norms or be able to serve as a safe, nurturing and responsible parent for Tiffany or Elena.

Based upon Lisa and Julio's behavior and performance so far, this court cannot foresee either parent ever having the ability or the patience to follow the regimen necessary for Tiffany or Elena to maximize the children's abilities and achievements.

The children's attorney indicated that the TPR would be in her clients' best interests.

The GAL testified that he believed that the TPR was in the best interests of the children. He also indicated that the present placements were in need of additional services, lest they disrupt as did some of the prior placements.

Dr. Connolly testified that Lisa's failure to engage in individual counseling greatly diminished her chances of rehabilitation. He further indicated that Lisa's continued relationship with Daniel, in view of the children's implication of him as their sexual victimizer, further reduced his already dim outlook on her chances at rehabilitation. He testified that Lisa cannot perceive the danger that Daniel poses to her and her children. He also opined that Lisa has undisclosed issues which impair her condition, probably including childhood physical abuse or sexual abuse.

Counsel for Lisa argued that the TPR should not be granted. She indicated that Lisa should be given more time in which to attempt to rehabilitate.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that DCF made all reasonable efforts to assist Lisa in her rehabilitation, but she has made little effort towards achieving her rehabilitative goals. The issues that she presented with when the children were taken into DCF care remain virtually unchanged and unimproved. The court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that allowing Lisa further time in which to rehabilitate herself will not result in Lisa utilizing the time or the services to effect positive changes so she can serve as a safe, CT Page 12005-cj responsible and nurturing parent to Tiffany or Elena. She has already been given that opportunity, and has utterly squandered it.

Tiffany and Elena have been in foster care for 30 months. They present with challenging and problematic behaviors. Both bright and intelligent children, their past childhood has been blighted by parental nonfeasance, parental malfeasance, multiple incidences of sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. Their behavioral and emotional difficulties make their futures uncertain.

What is certain is that any further delay in permanency and stability will only worsen an already parlous situation for these children.

The clear and convincing evidence indicates that Tiffany and Elena can wait no longer for permanency and stability.

Our courts have recognized that "long-term stability is critical to a child's future health and development." In re Eden F., supra, 250 Conn. 709. Furthermore, "[b]ecause of the psychological effects of prolonged termination proceedings on young children, time is of the essence . . ." when resolving issues related to the permanent or temporary care of neglected children. In re Alexander V., 25 Conn.App. 741, 748, 596 A.2d 934 (1991), aff'd, 223 Conn. 557, 613 A.2d 780 (1992); see also In re Juvenile Appeal (84-CD), 189 Conn. 276, 292, 455 A.2d 1313 (1983). The court is obliged to agree with the children's attorney and DCF and concludes that the clear and convincing evidence in this case establishes that Tiffany and Elena are entitled to the benefit of ending, without further delay, the period of uncertainty as to the availability of their biological parents as caretakers.

The State and DCF have recommended the TPR of Tiffany and Elena. There has been absolutely no evidence to establish the unreasonableness of this request.

Having balanced Tiffany and Elena's individual and intrinsic needs for stability and permanency against the CT Page 12005-ck benefits of maintaining a connection with Lisa or Julio, the clear and convincing evidence in this case establishes that the children's best interests cannot be served by continuing to maintain any legal relationship to either respondent parent. Pamela B. v. Ment, supra, 244 Conn. 313-14.

Accordingly, with respect to the best interests of the children contemplated by § 17a-112(j)(2), by clear and convincing evidence, and based upon all of the foregoing, including the testimony and evidence presented, the court finds that termination of the parental rights of Lisa and Julio as to Tiffany and Elena is in the best interests of the children in question.

ORDER OF TERMINATION

WHEREFORE, after due consideration of Tiffany and Elena's sense of time, their need for a secure and permanent environment, the relationship they have with their foster parents, and the totality of circumstances; and having considered all the statutory criteria and having found by clear and convincing evidence that grounds exist for termination of parental rights; and having concluded that the termination of the parental rights at issue will be in the children's best interests, the court issues the following ORDERS:

That the parental rights of Lisa L. are hereby terminated as to the children Tiffany Z. and Luz Elena Z.

That the parental rights of Julio Z., Sr., are hereby terminated as to the children Tiffany Z. and Luz Elena Z.

That the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families is hereby appointed the statutory parent for Tiffany and Elena for the purpose of securing an adoptive family or other permanent placement for them.

That a permanency plan shall be submitted within 30 days of this judgment, and that such further reports shall be timely presented to the court, as required by law. CT Page 12005-cl

That DCF shall make available all services that it can reasonably muster in order to assist the children's foster parents in maintaining them in the community. DCF shall inform the children's attorney and GAL of its efforts on a regular basis.