On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, FG-09-186-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 7, 2008
Before Judges Winkelstein, Fuentes and Chambers.
We consolidate these two cases in which defendants appeal from the trial court order of January 15, 2008, terminating their parental rights to C.P., a child born on May 20, 2005. We affirm substantially for the reasons set forth by the trial judge.
The mother, Y.P., age fifteen, was placed into the custody of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) after she had been referred to DYFS by a hospital. At the time, Y.P. was seven months pregnant and living with C.G., the child's father, who was twenty-four years old.
C.G., the father of C.P., by his own admission, is in the country illegally. He works in construction. According to C.G., he had the permission of Y.P.'s mother to date her. He was twenty-four years old and Y.P. was fourteen when they began dating. At the time of the hearing, criminal charges were pending against C.G. arising out of his sexual relations with Y.P. due to her status as a minor. However, on February 6, 2008, after the trial court rendered its decision in this termination of parental rights case, a Hudson County grand jury declined to indict him for the charges.
Once the child was born, DYFS obtained legal custody of the newborn. Y.P. and her child were first placed with an aunt of Y.P., but within a month that arrangement had not worked out.
Y.P. and the child were then placed in separate foster homes.
In February 2006, when the child was about eight months old and Y.P. was sixteen, Y.P. and her child were reunited, and placed together in the Union Industrial Home for Children. This facility provided a structured environment for Y.P. and her child and offered education, parenting classes, and other services to Y.P. Despite Y.P.'s hard work and some progress, this placement proved to be unsuccessful. The Union Industrial Home found that due to her mood fluctuations, volatility, and developmental deficits, Y.P. was unable to care for the child and that her "inability to understand [C.P.'s] emotional and physical needs would profoundly affect [C.P.'s] ability to function as a normal and productive child."
Numerous mental examinations of Y.P. indicate that she is immature with cognitive limitations that make her incapable of caring for the child without substantial assistance. Dr. Frank J. Dyer, the expert psychologist for DYFS, found her to be mildly mentally retarded and functionally illiterate.
On January 17, 2007, almost a year after being placed in the Industrial Home, Y.P. and the child, then about twenty months old, left the program. Y.P. was placed in a group home, which she left without permission. She was found on March 14, 2007, living with the family headed by J.J. and A.T., husband and wife. At the time of the trial, Y.P. was living with this family, working, going to school, and doing well. DYFS has continued to provide Y.P. with services. J.J and A.T. had initially declined to have C.P. placed in their home with Y.P. However, on June 20, 2007, shortly after the termination of parental rights case was commenced, they advised the court of their willingness to adopt C.P. At various points in the pretrial process, DYFS made efforts to locate family members to take in Y.P. and her child, but those efforts were unsuccessful.
After leaving the Union Industrial Home for Children, the child, C.P., was placed in one foster home, and then on February 6, 2007, he was moved to another foster home where he was residing at the ...