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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services,*Fn1 v. T.S

August 29, 2012


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FG-04-0169-11.

Per curiam.



Submitted August 22, 2012

Before Judges Simonelli and Waugh.

Defendant T.S., the biological mother of M.F.S, born in March 2010, appeals from the August 18, 2011 Family Part order, which terminated her parental rights to the child. We affirm.

We derive the following facts from the record. In February 2010, respondent New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (Division or DYFS), received a report from a hospital alleging that defendant, then pregnant with M.F.S., was admitted to the psychiatric crisis unit after attempting suicide by hanging, and attempting to end the pregnancy by using a hammer on her abdomen to "get the baby out." Defendant had received no prenatal care, and allegedly claimed she had been raped and did not want the baby. While in the hospital, defendant allegedly attempted suicide several times, vaginally inserted a spoon to induce labor, and ruptured her amniotic sac, causing her to go into labor and deliver M.F.S. six weeks prematurely.

M.F.S. was born with respiratory distress, sepsis, and bleeding on the left and right side of her brain, was unable to control her body temperature on her own, and could not eat without assistance. M.F.S. also has Sickle Cell Anemia, developmental delays, hip dysplasia, reflux, and Cerebral Palsy. She must be medically monitored very closely, and will have significant physical limitations requiring treatment for the rest of her life. Among treatments, M.F.S. presently attends physical therapy three times weekly, requires leg braces, and is expected to be wheelchair-bound, depending on the progression of the Cerebral Palsy.

The Division obtained custody of M.F.S. based on serious concerns about the mental stability of defendant and her mother, K.S., with whom defendant lived all of her life. On April 1, 2010, the Division placed M.F.S. in a foster home for medically fragile children, where she currently remains. The foster parents want to adopt her.

On April 7, 2010, Larry N. Seidman, Ph.D., performed a psychological evaluation of defendant. During the interview, defendant denied everything the hospital had reported and said that the reporters had lied. Tests revealed that defendant has an IQ of fifty-five, and is mildly mentally retarded and functionally illiterate, among other deficiencies. Based on the test results, Dr. Seidman opined:

Complicating [defendant's] clinical picture are signs of an underlying thought disturbance, characterized by poor judgment, a high level of anxiety, infantile social behavior, and a propensity toward egocentric, aggressive, and hysterical acting-out behavior. Further, [defendant's] immaturity, problems in control of anger and her primitive drives, and significant feelings of depression, are likely to cause her to behave in a highly unpredictable manner, and to have great conflicts regarding the female role, which is apt to result in considerable problems taking adequate responsibility for caring for her child.

The doctor diagnosed defendant with mild to moderate mental retardation, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified, generalized anxiety disorder, and dysthymic disorder. He concluded that defendant is "intellectually, adaptively, and emotionally unable to care for her infant child regardless of the quality and quantity of the treatment plan offered to her."

On April 26, 2010, Rafael M. Baez, M.D., performed a psychiatric evaluation of defendant. Defendant denied she had any psychiatric or medical history, previous psychiatric hospitalizations, or past treatments with psychiatric medications. Dr. Baez diagnosed defendant with borderline personality disorder and dependent personality disorder. He concluded that defendant "has no insight whatsoever and also is having denial about herself and her problems."

On March 2, 2011, Bancroft G. Davis, Psy.D. performed a psychological evaluation of defendant to determine if she could safely and appropriately parent and supervise M.F.S. Defendant was enrolled in anger management and parenting skills classes at the time of the evaluation. She denied that she had tried to end her pregnancy, had past suicidal ideation, or had a history of mental health difficulties, anger management problems, anxiety, depression, or self-injurious behavior. Tests confirmed that defendant is functionally illiterate and has an IQ of fifty-five. Tests also revealed that defendant's concentration and attention were fair to poor; her insight and ...

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