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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. M.A.

February 21, 2008

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
M.A., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND A.D. AND A.P.K., DEFENDANTS.
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF K.A.A., A.L.D.A. AND J.L.D., MINORS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, FG-04-56-07.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 28, 2008

Before Judges S.L. Reisner and Baxter.

Defendant M.A. appeals from an April 26, 2007 order entered by Judge Page terminating her parental rights to three of her children, K.A., A.A. and J.D.*fn1 We affirm.

I.

This case concerns three of M.A.'s children, K.A., who was born April 28, 2000, A.A., who was born February 2, 2005, and J.D., who was born July 28, 2006. K.A. lived with M.A. and her boyfriend A.D. (not the child's father), from the time the child was born until he was four years old, when he was placed in foster care. The other two children were taken from M.A. at birth. K.A. has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the youngest child, J.D., is medically fragile and has "severe reflux."

In a prior opinion, we affirmed a determination by Judge Connor that M.A. abused and neglected K.A. and his younger brother A.A., N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21. New Jersey Div. of Youth and Family Services v. M.A., Docket No. A-5427-05T4 (App. Div. February 5, 2007). We reviewed M.A.'s parenting history in some detail in that opinion. Additional evidence was introduced at the guardianship trial before Judge Page.

Prior to the birth of K.A., defendant had three other children who were legally removed from her and placed in the custody of her parents in New York. The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) attempted to interview M.A. and A.D. in 2004, to check on the welfare of K.A., but she refused to cooperate and left New Jersey before DYFS could enforce its right to interview her.

According to DYFS case worker Douglas Palm, M.A. next came to the attention of DYFS in January 2005, after she "was found unconscious in her hotel room" in Ocean City, New Jersey while she was caring for K.A. The police gave custody of K.A. to M.A.'s boyfriend, A.D. When Palm interviewed A.D. on January 31, 2005, he admitted a history of drug abuse. On February 5, 2005, K.A. was removed from A.D.'s custody after the two of them were found at a bus station in Atlantic City and A.D. was observed to be nodding off, apparently under the influence of drugs.

Palm interviewed M.A. shortly after she gave birth to A.A. on February 2, 2005. At that point, M.A. admitted that she had not had any prenatal care while pregnant with this baby. She also told Palm that she had had no prenatal care when pregnant with K.A., and that she had given birth to K.A. on the kitchen floor of an apartment instead of going to the hospital. She had done this intentionally, because she was afraid that K.A. would be taken away from her, as had happened with her first three children. She also admitted that she had not obtained any routine medical care for K.A.; he had not had any immunizations or other well-child care.

According to DYFS case worker Bianca Ginsburg, A.A. was placed in foster care soon after he was born in February 2005. Ginsburg testified that in 2006, in an effort to assist with reunification of M.A. with the two children, DYFS offered a variety of court-ordered services to M.A. including psychological and psychiatric evaluations and parenting classes. M.A. frequently failed to appear. The primary problems that prevented M.A. from being reunified with K.A. and A.A. were her lack of cooperation with "Court ordered services" to address her mental health issues, and her failure to obtain stable housing.

Although the agency attempted to arrange for visitation between M.A. and her children, M.A. often would be late or would not appear. She also sometimes paid attention to the younger child and not the older child, K.A. The agency also ...


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