On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, FG-04-105-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 2, 2008
Before Judges Fuentes, Gilroy and Chambers.
A.L., the biological father of T.E.L.S., a twelve-year-old girl born August 12, 1997, appeals from the September 26, 2007 order of the Family Part, terminating his parental rights to his daughter. The parental rights of A.E.S.,*fn1 the child's biological mother, were terminated by an earlier order of March 7, 2007, but she does not appeal. We affirm.
A.L. is currently incarcerated at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, having been sentenced on January 26, 2001, on convictions of various crimes, including first-degree aggravated manslaughter, to an aggregate term of fifteen years of imprisonment. His expected release date is January 15, 2013.
T.E.L.S. suffers from multiple disabilities, including hyperactivity, speech difficulties, developmental delays, a heart murmur, and a history of urinary frequency and bed wetting. She is classified as moderately and cognitively impaired, making her eligible for special education services.
On March 24, 2005, plaintiff, the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), filed a complaint against A.E.S. and A.L., alleging abuse and neglect of T.E.L.S. On April 28, 2005, DYFS was granted custody of the parties' daughter, who was then placed with her maternal grandmother, T.R. Following a fact-finding hearing on August 17, 2005, the trial court determined that A.E.S. abused and neglected her daughter. At a compliance review hearing conducted on October 27, 2005, the court directed that DYFS file a guardianship complaint to terminate the parental rights of both parents.
On April 1, 2006, A.L. voluntarily surrendered his parental rights to T.E.L.S. and identified T.R. as the individual he wished to adopt his daughter. Six days later, A.E.S. also voluntarily surrendered her parental rights to T.E.L.S. in favor of T.R. On May 3, 2006, the court entered an order terminating the parental rights of both parents and awarded guardianship of T.E.L.S. to DYFS to consent to the child's adoption by T.R.
Unfortunately, in September 2006, T.R. advised DYFS that she could no longer care for T.E.L.S. and requested DYFS to remove the child from her custody. In December 2006, DYFS removed T.E.L.S. from T.R.'s custody and placed her in a mentor foster home. This removal of T.E.L.S. from the care of her grandmother negated the identified surrenders of A.E.S. and A.L.
On February 6, 2007, DYFS filed a guardianship complaint. On March 5, 2007, a default was entered as to A.E.S. On March 7, 2007, following a proof hearing, the trial court entered a judgment of guardianship, supported by an oral decision, terminating the parental rights of A.E.S. to T.E.L.S. In April 2007, T.E.L.S. was placed with her current foster family, which family also serves as the caretaker for T.E.L.S.'s brother, J.M. The foster family desires to adopt both T.E.L.S. and J.M.
A trial was conducted in the matter on August 6, 2007. Testifying on behalf of DYFS was Amanda Gray, a DYFS case manager. Although present at trial, defendant did not testify on his own behalf. However, he did present testimony from Norma Figueroa, a non-relative acquaintance, who is currently serving as the caregiver for another child of A.L.
On September 25, 2007, the trial court rendered a written decision, terminating A.L.'s parental rights to T.E.L.S. A confirming order ...