On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Mercer County, Docket No. FG-11-36-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 22, 2010
Before Judges Reisner, Yannotti and Chambers.
K.R. appeals from an order dated March 9, 2009 terminating parental rights to R.C.C., Jr. We affirm.
These are the most pertinent facts. K.R. has a long history of drug abuse. She has also been diagnosed with severe mental illness. R.C.C., Jr. is her fourth child. Due to her mental health and substance abuse issues, she lost custody of three other children, beginning with a child born in 1994, when K.R. was sixteen. All of those children were born testing positive for cocaine.
R.C.C., Jr. was born on February 20, 2007. At that point his father, R.C.C., to whom K.R. was not married, was incarcerated.*fn1 The baby was removed from K.R. at birth because he tested positive for PCP and cocaine, as did K.R. Her explanation for the presence of drugs in their systems was that she "accidentally" ingested some PCP. After taking custody of the baby, the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS or Division) referred K.R. to a specialized program for persons with mental illness and substance abuse problems (MICA).
However, it was difficult to find her a placement because she had previously been barred from the Catholic Charities network due to prior verbal assaults on their staff.
DYFS was able to help her attend the Medallion MICA program, but K.R. was terminated for lack of consistency. K.R. then began another program at Trenton Treatment. However, K.R. went to the intake but was terminated from the program because she did not follow through with treatment. K.R. participated in a third program, AAMH, but her attendance was sporadic and she reported to DYFS that she was discharged from the program for lack of regular attendance.*fn2
After placing the child in foster care, DYFS contacted relatives who might have been able to serve as caretakers. An aunt was ruled out because of outstanding criminal warrants. The paternal grandmother was ruled out after she missed meetings and then stopped communicating with DYFS workers altogether.
The child has been with the same foster family since a week after his birth. They have expressed an interest in adopting him. In fact, on December 19, 2008, they testified under oath that they wished to adopt the child.
At the guardianship hearing, the Division presented testimony from Dr. Alan Lee, a psychologist. Dr. Lee performed two bonding evaluations between the child and K.R., the first on May 28, 2008 and the second on November 25, 2008. On May 28, he first evaluated the child's bonding with each of the two foster parents, and evaluated the bond with K.R. during a third session that day. On November 25, he had scheduled K.R. to have the first evaluation session, but she arrived late and Dr. ...