On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Warren County, Docket No. FG-21-8-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 15, 2008
Before Judges Winkelstein and Yannotti.
Defendant R.R. appeals from an order entered on December 28, 2006, which terminated her parental rights to C.S. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
R.R. gave birth to C.S. on November 19, 2002. R.R. was twenty-five years old at the time. J.S. is the biological father of the child. Previously, R.R. had given birth to twin daughters, A.R. and B.R. L.R. is the father of the twins.
R.R. entered the hospital for psychiatric care on May 4, 2004. The Division effected an emergency removal of the three children. A.R. and B.R. were placed with their father, and C.S. was placed in foster care. On July 7, 2004, after R.R. had completed her psychiatric treatment, C.S. was returned to R.R.'s care. A.R. and B.R. remained with their father.
On August 27, 2004, R.R. consented to the placement of C.S. Thereafter, R.R. was hospitalized for psychiatric care. C.S. was again placed in foster care. On September 17, 2004, the Division filed a complaint seeking the care, custody, and supervision of C.S. On that date, the court entered an order placing C.S. in the Division's custody.
The judge conducted a fact-finding hearing on October 6, 2004 and found that R.R. had abused or neglected the child by failing to take prescribed medications, which made her incapable of caring for the child. C.S. was placed with her foster parents, where she has remained since. Following a permanency hearing on May 18, 2005, the judge accepted the Division's plan for the termination of R.R.'s parental rights and C.S.'s adoption by the foster parents.
The trial on the Division's guardianship complaint took place on March 22, 2006, April 24, 2006, and May 22, 2006.*fn1 The Division presented testimony from Stephanie Thomas (Ms. Thomas), a Division worker. Ms. Thomas testified that between 1999 and 2004, the Division received twenty reports concerning R.R. and the children. Ms. Thomas said that the Division provided R.R. with family preservation services in May 2002, January 2003, and August 2004. The Division also provided R.R. with domestic abuse counseling; a Family First program; the Contextual Family Service program; substance abuse evaluations; psychiatric evaluations; and visitation. In addition, the Division helped R.R. to obtain housing and financial assistance.
Ms. Thomas further testified that R.R. has a history of substance abuse. R.R. reported that she used many different substances, including marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. R.R. tested positive for marijuana in January and November of 2005. In October 2005, R.R. was arrested for driving under the influence.
The Division referred R.R. to a substance abuse program, which provides therapy and ongoing treatment. Ms. Thomas said that R.R. also checked herself into a program called Teen Challenge, which is supposed to last from four to six months. According to Ms. Thomas, R.R. attended the program for "about two weeks, maybe less." R.R. stated that she left the program to appear in court but never returned to the program.
Ms. Thomas asserted that R.R. has a long history of mental illness. R.R. also has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. She has a history of paranoia and auditory hallucinations. Medication has been prescribed to address these conditions. However, R.R. has at times failed to take her prescribed medication. R.R. was admitted to a hospital for psychiatric treatment in 2001. In 2004, she was hospitalized and received electric shock therapy. Ms. Thomas also said that R.R. has had numerous jobs over short periods of time. She ...