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In re the Termination of the Parental Rights of Doe

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 25, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF JANE (2014-12) DOE. JOHN DOE and JANE DOE I, Petitioners-Respondents,
v.
JANE (2014-12) DOE, Respondent-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision is not final until exception of the 21 day petition for rehearing period. Pursuant to rule 118 of the Idaho Appellate Rules.

2014 Opinion No. 69

Page 875

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 876

Appeal from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Jerome County. Hon. Thomas H. Borresen, Magistrate.

Decree terminating parental rights, affirmed.

Stacey DePew, Jerome, for appellant.

James C. Meservy of Williams, Meservy & Lothspeich, LLP, Jerome, for respondents.

MELANSON, Judge. Chief Judge GUTIERREZ and Judge GRATTON, CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 877

MELANSON, Judge

Jane (2014-12) Doe (the mother) appeals from the magistrate's decree terminating her parental rights as to her daughter. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

John Doe and Jane Doe I, the maternal grandparents of the child, filed a petition for termination of the mother's parental rights and adoption of the child. The Does claimed that the mother had abandoned and neglected the child. A hearing on that petition was held at which the Does and the mother testified. The testimony presented at the hearing established the following facts. The child at the center of this case was born to the mother on December 29, 2004. The father of the child is not known, despite two DNA tests. After the mother took the child home from the hospital, Jane would regularly stop by the mother's apartment to assist with caring for the child, including taking the child to the Does' home three to four times a week. On several occasions, Jane found the mother oblivious to the child's cries and, on at least one occasion, Jane found the mother passed out. The Does began paying for daycare for the child when the child was two weeks old, which the mother obtained because she was on probation and working. During this time, the mother was attending beauty school during the day. Jane testified that she would take the child to daycare, visit the child at daycare during her lunch hour, and pick the child up at the end of the day.

Testimony revealed that the mother struggled with drug and alcohol addiction beginning before the child was born, resulting in repeated legal issues. Jane testified that the

Page 878

child was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, which caused vision and dental issues that the Does paid to have corrected. The Does began caring for the child full-time approximately one month after the child was born as a result of the mother's incarceration for driving under the influence in February 2005, which continued until approximately June 2005. The mother had no contact with the child during her incarceration. The Does obtained temporary guardianship of the child at the behest of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare shortly after the mother was incarcerated in order to avoid having the child placed in foster care. The Does were granted permanent guardianship of the child, with the mother's consent, on June 6, 2005, and they remained guardians at the time of trial. Approximately nine months after her release, the mother was again arrested for petit theft. The mother was in and out of jail for various offenses until, in August 2008, the mother was charged with possession of a controlled substance. While out on court compliance, the mother was charged in early 2009 with possession of a controlled substance and possession of a forged instrument (a counterfeit $100 bill). The second possession charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement. The mother was sentenced to a unified term of four years, with a minimum period of confinement of two years, for the 2008 possession of a controlled substance, and a unified term of five years, with a minimum period of confinement of two years, for possession of a forged instrument. The court retained jurisdiction and the mother went on her first six-month rider.[1] After completing the rider, the mother was placed on probation. The Does then helped the mother obtain an apartment and the mother was employed until she relapsed by using methamphetamine near the end of 2009.

Because of her struggles with drugs and alcohol and her frequent legal issues, the mother had sporadic contact with the child from 2005 to 2010. The mother would rarely visit the child at the Does' home, and would occasionally call when she was able. When the mother could not afford to come to the Does' home, Jane would facilitate a meeting when she and the child were in a nearby town, which occurred approximately once every two weeks. These visits would generally occur at a parking lot or store, and the mother would usually terminate the visits within twenty minutes.

After relapsing, the mother was sent to a treatment facility in early 2010. During the time that the mother was there, the Does took the child to see the mother on three separate occasions for periods of up to several hours, as allowed by the program. The mother would also occasionally call the child using her counselor's cell phone. When allowed by the program, the mother requested to have the child come stay with her at the treatment facility, but Jane denied this request because she did not feel it was in the child's best interest to stay with the ...


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