On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FG-04-61-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 28, 2011
Before Judges Rodriguez, Grall and Coburn.
E.F.M., the birth father of I.M., a two-year-old boy, appeals from the February 23, 2010, Judgment of Guardianship terminating his parental rights to I.M. E.F.M. has never lived with I.M. due to E.F.M.'s homelessness or incarceration. We affirm.
C.C., the birth mother, suffered from psychological and physical illnesses, including epilepsy, breast cancer and diabetes. Two weeks prior to I.M.'s birth, Dr. Higgins of Underwood Hospital contacted DYFS to report that C.C. was thirty-two weeks pregnant, suffering from severe anxiety and depression and had issues with illicit narcotics use. One week prior to giving birth to I.M., C.C. tested positive for cocaine, opiates and barbiturates.
DYFS opened a case for services due to concerns about C.C.'s health and homelessness. C.C. identified E.F.M. as the birth father of I.M.
On June 9, 2008, C.C. gave birth to I.M. He was born premature and weighed three pounds, two ounces. I.M. tested positive for narcotics and suffered withdrawal symptoms. He was diagnosed as medically fragile and remained in the hospital for three weeks. He was discharged to a group home. At the time, C.C. was homeless. E.F.M. was incarcerated, serving a sentence for aggravated assault and distribution of controlled dangerous substances (CDS). Following a fact-finding hearing four months later, Judge Octavia Melendez found that C.C. and E.F.M. had placed I.M. at a substantial risk of harm.
In July 2008, I.M. was placed in the home of K.O., a friend of C.C. E.F.M. was unable to provide a home for his son due to repeated incarceration and lack of stable housing or employment. When a DYFS worker visited K.O. to check-in on I.M. in September 2008, K.O. mentioned that C.C. and E.F.M. had been there that day to visit I.M. The worker tried to reach E.F.M. and was informed that he no longer resided at the address given to DYFS. When a worker ran into E.F.M. on the street, E.F.M. stated that he and C.C. were living at her sister's home where there was no telephone. E.F.M. gave the worker a number where he could be reached. He admitted that he was unemployed and had no prospects for employment.
E.F.M.'s drug use began at age fifteen with alcohol and marijuana. By age sixteen, he was using cocaine and heroin. He contracted hepatitis C through intravenous drug use.
E.F.M. used large quantities of cocaine and heroin on a daily basis, a habit he financed by dealing drugs. He claims that he has not used drugs since 2002.
E.F.M.'s history of convictions began in 1978 and includes convictions for possession of CDS, distribution of CDS, robbery, armed robbery, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault on a police officer. He was released on parole several times and repeatedly violated the terms of his release. E.F.M. also violated the terms of a probationary ...