IN RE: ISABELLA STAR G.

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

IN RE: ISABELLA STAR G., A Dependent Child Under the Age of Eighteen Years, etc., Elizabeth G., et al., Respondents-Appellants, Episcopal Social Services, Petitioner-Respondent.

Decided: October 20, 2009

TOM, J.P., BUCKLEY, CATTERSON, FREEDMAN, ABDUS-SALAAM, JJ. Robin S. Steinberg, The Bronx Defenders, Bronx (M. Chris Fabricant of counsel), for Elizabeth G., appellant. Steven N. Feinman, White Plains, for Silvio G., appellant. Magovern & Sclafani, New York (Joanna M. Roberson of counsel), for respondent. Neal D. Futerfas, White Plains, Law Guardian.

Order of disposition, Family Court, Bronx County (Sidney Gribetz, J.), entered on or about July 2, 2007, which, following a fact-finding determination that respondent mother had permanently neglected the child and that respondent father's consent was not required for the child's adoption, terminated respondent mother's parental rights and committed custody and guardianship of the child to petitioner agency and the Commissioner of Social Services for the purpose of adoption, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

 The finding of permanent neglect is supported by clear and convincing evidence (Matter of Lionel Burton W., Jr., 30 A.D.3d 355, 818 N.Y.S.2d 72 [2006] ).   The agency's efforts included scheduling regular visitation between mother and child, and referring and encouraging the mother to attend and complete a drug treatment program.   The record clearly and convincingly shows that despite those efforts, respondent failed to complete a drug treatment program and failed to attend all of her scheduled visits with the child.

Respondent mother's contention that the agency did not meet its burden because it did not make sufficiently diligent efforts to provide psychological or psychiatric services is without merit.   Indeed, an agency's focus on a parent's major problem, here, drug addiction, is the most appropriate course of action (Matter of Michael M., 172 A.D.2d 152, 567 N.Y.S.2d 693 [1991] ).   In any event, the agency in fact made various referrals to both psychological and psychiatric services in which respondent mother failed to participate.

 The court's findings regarding the best interests of the child were supported by a preponderance of the evidence, highlighting the positive environment provided by the foster mother and her desire to adopt the child, which was in furtherance of the goal of finding a permanent home for this child (see Matter of Taaliyah Simone S.D., 28 A.D.3d 371, 813 N.Y.S.2d 87 [2006] ).   Despite belated efforts to rehabilitate herself, a suspended judgment was not warranted since respondent mother had not completed a drug program and there was no evidence as to how she planned to provide this child with an adequate and stable home (see Matter of Rutherford Roderick T., 4 A.D.3d 213, 772 N.Y.S.2d 49 [2004] ).   Indeed, the child should not be denied permanence through adoption in order to provide respondent mother with more time to demonstrate that she can be a fit parent (see Matter of Jada Serenity H., 60 A.D.3d 469, 874 N.Y.S.2d 113 [2009] ).

 Respondent mother's argument that she was prejudiced due to the length of the proceedings was raised for the first time on appeal and is therefore unpreserved.   Were we to review this issue, we would find that the length of the proceedings was not prejudicial.

 Respondent father's consent to the adoption of this child was not required since he did not maintain “substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child” (Domestic Relations Law § 111[1][d] ).  The record shows that respondent father failed to provide financial support according to his means while the child was in foster care and that his visitation with the child was sporadic (Matter of Norman Christian K., 60 A.D.3d 542, 876 N.Y.S.2d 365 [2009] ).