NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff–Respondent, v. D.I., Defendant–Appellant. IN RE: THE GUARDIANSHIP OF X.C.I–H., E.J.W., and I.J.W., minors.
Defendant appeals from a May 24, 2013 judgment of guardianship terminating her parental rights to her three children, X.C.I–H. (Xander) 1 , E.J.W. (Emily), and I.J.W. (Ian).2 Defendant argues that the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division) failed to prove each prong of N.J.S.A. 30:4C–15.1(a) by clear and convincing evidence. We disagree. After reviewing the extensive evidence presented to the trial court, and in light of prevailing legal standards and the arguments presented, we affirm.
Defendant was born in July 1990 and has a long history with the Division dating back to her own childhood. Defendant is the biological mother of three children, Xander, born in December 2008, and twins Emily and Ian, born in May 2011. At this point, all three children are in the care and custody of the Division, and are residing in foster homes. Xander's foster mother has expressed a desire to adopt him, and the twins' foster parents want to adopt them, as well. The Division has ruled out all family members as placement options for the children.
We will not recite in detail the history of the Division's extensive involvement with defendant. Rather, we incorporate by reference the factual findings and legal conclusions contained in Judge Marquis Jones' comprehensive eighty-eight page written decision. We add the following brief comments.
We are satisfied that, beginning with the Division's involvement with defendant in January 2009, and continuing up to and including the commencement of trial approximately four years later in March 2013, defendant was unable to overcome the deficiencies that rendered her unable to safely parent her children. Defendant has an extensive history of psychiatric issues, numerous hospitalizations, emotional instability and behavioral problems, which resulted in the emergency removal of Xander from her custody in 2009, and a subsequent removal of the twins immediately following their birth two years later.
Despite numerous hospitalizations, and years of treatment and evaluations for her mental health issues, defendant showed little to no insight into her severe psychological problems, a history of noncompliance with, and repeated attempts to minimize the necessity of, treatment, and a history of violent and aggressive behaviors. The credible expert evidence demonstrates defendant has little prospect at developing adequate parenting capacity, and that her non-compliance with medications would put the children at risk in her care. Further, the evidence demonstrates that Xander has a strong bond with his foster parent, and that Emily and Ian have strong bonds with their foster parents, and the children would not suffer harm if defendant's parental rights were terminated.
Judge Jones carefully reviewed the evidence presented, and thereafter concluded that the Division had met by clear and convincing evidence all of the legal requirements for a judgment of guardianship. The judge's opinion follows the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 30:4C–15.1a, accords with In re Guardianship of K.H.O., 161 N.J. 337 (1999), In re Guardianship of D.M.H., 161 N.J. 365 (1999), and New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.W., 103 N.J. 591 (1986), and is supported by substantial and credible evidence in the record. New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. F.M., 211 N.J. 420, 448–49 (2012). We therefore affirm substantially for the reasons that the judge expressed in his comprehensive and well-reasoned opinion.
1. FN1. Fictitious names will be used in lieu of initials for the minor children.
2. FN2. Xander's biological father, S.H., surrendered his rights on February 25, 2013 and is not involved in this appeal. The twins' biological father is unknown.