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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. P.G.

May 14, 2009


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County, No. FG-06-35-07.

Per curiam.



Submitted March 31, 2009

Before Judges Wefing, Parker and Yannotti.

P.G. is the mother of A.G. She appeals from the trial court judgment terminating her parental rights to her son and granting custody of him to the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services ("DYFS"). After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

A.G. was born on May 17, 2003. His father is P.F., who executed a voluntary surrender of his parental rights and did not participate in the trial below. It is clear from the trial record that P.G. suffers from significant psychological and emotional problems. DYFS retained Linda R. Jeffrey, Ph.D., to evaluate P.G. As part of her evaluation, Dr. Jeffrey administered a series of tests to P.G., interviewed P.G. and reviewed the earlier psychiatric evaluation that had been prepared by Eileen M. O'Connor, M.D. Dr. O'Connor had diagnosed P.G. with schizophrenia and having a history of "multiple severe delusions." Dr. Jeffrey diagnosed P.G. as having bipolar disorder with psychotic features. She wrote the following in her report:

Her profile reflects major personality problems and a lack of adequate coping skills. Her foundation for the management of emotion and cognition as well as regulation of social relationships appears impaired. It is likely that she possesses an inflated self concept combined with an intense mistrust of others. She is likely to have underlying resentment, and to experience frequent interpersonal conflicts and personal and family difficulties. She is easily provoked and may express sudden hostilities. She may lose touch with aspects of reality at times, and distort and exaggerate the superficial comments of others into major insults. She may also attempt to reconstruct reality to suit her desires. She experiences manic periods, and has significant problems with mood regulation. She may become explosively enraged and irrationally belligerent.

Her testimony at trial was to the same effect. She said that P.G. had narcissistic personality disorder with schizoid personality traits and paranoid and obsessive compulsive personality features. According to Dr. Jeffrey, it was highly unlikely that providing treatment and counseling to P.G. would enable her to alleviate these problems.

Dr. Jeffrey also conducted a bonding evaluation of P.G. with A.G. She testified that A.G. appeared to have a superficial relationship with P.G. and that it was, in her opinion, "highly unlikely" that A.G. would experience serious and enduring harm if P.G.'s parental rights were terminated.

In addition, Dr. Jeffrey conducted a bonding evaluation of A.G. with his foster parent. A.G. had been living with her for approximately one year at the time of this evaluation. Dr. Jeffrey found their relationship to be secure and affectionate.

She said it was likely that removing A.G. from her care would place him at a high risk for serious and enduring harm.

DYFS's first involvement with P.G. and A.G. occurred in the fall of 2004. P.G. and A.G. were living with P.G.'s mother, who had been named P.G.'s guardian. Although the initial allegations were not substantiated, DYFS offered a variety of services to the family. A.G. was ultimately removed from his mother's care in February 2006. DYFS had received reports that P.G. and her mother would come to a local diner with A.G. and order food for themselves but none for the child, and that P.G. would offer A.G. to customers in the diner. A.G.'s pediatrician was concerned that A.G., who was three at the time, was still not speaking. In addition, he was not toilet trained.

After his removal, A.G. was first placed with a resource family and then moved to two other homes before being placed with his current foster family. His foster mother is P.G.'s aunt, and she wishes to adopt him. He has made significant progress under her care. Following A.G.'s removal, P.G. made a series of complaints to DYFS and to police, including that A.G. had been kidnapped, that his life was in danger and that a pit bull had bitten off one of A.G.'s arms. None of these reports were true. In addition, P.G. reported that A.G. had, at birth, been one of triplets, but the other two babies had died. This report was also not true. Additionally, there was a telephone call placed to the Newark office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the DYFS caseworker was an imposter and was stalking P.G. Her caseworker testified that she told him that A.G. was one of Siamese ...

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