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New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services v. L.G.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 1, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
L.G., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF N.R. AND S.R., minors.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 18, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket No. FG-09-0114-12.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Rashaan S. Williams, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Jonathan Villa, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors N.R. and S.R. (Melissa R. Vance, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, on the brief).

Before Judges Fuentes, Simonelli and Haas.

PER CURIAM

Defendant L.G. appeals from the May 7, 2012 judgment of guardianship of the Family Part terminating her parental rights to two of her children, N.R. (Ned) and S.R. (Susan).[1] She argues the Division of Youth and Family Services[2] (Division) did not prove the four prongs of the termination statute by clear and convincing evidence. The Law Guardian supports the termination on appeal as it did before the trial court.

Based on our review of the record and applicable law, we are satisfied the evidence in favor of the guardianship petition overwhelmingly supports the decision to terminate L.G.'s parental rights. Accordingly, we affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in Judge Mark J. Nelson's thorough twenty-page written opinion rendered on May 7, 2012. We add the following comments.

The Division first became involved with the family in 2007, when it received reports that L.G. was not providing appropriate living conditions for her two older children, A.R. and J.R.[3] Over the next two years, the Division monitored the situation and entered into a case plan with L.G. for the safety of the children. In June 2009, the Division received a referral from a hospital that L.G. was pregnant with twins. L.G. told hospital staff that she "could not take care of four children" and the hospital learned that she had been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital earlier that year.

In December 2009, L.G. gave birth to Ned and Susan.[4] The children had low birth weights and were placed in the intensive care unit. While visiting the children, L.G. dropped Ned on the floor and the child sustained a fractured skull. Susan showed signs of arrhythmia and was taken to another hospital for specialized care. Upon their release from the hospital, the children were placed in a resource home. They currently reside with a foster family, which plans to adopt them.

Ned suffers from pica, a disorder characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings to eat nonfood items. He requires constant supervision, together with biweekly behavioral and speech therapy and medical treatment for asthma. Susan requires speech therapy and medical treatment for her heart condition, sleep apnea issues, and asthma.

Psychiatric evaluations conducted over the next two years revealed that L.G. had an "I.Q. of 57" and her cognitive development was "within the mentally retarded range." L.G. was not able to understand the children's special needs and lacked the "intellectual capacity or insight" to address those needs. The Division continued to work with L.G. by arranging for psychotherapy sessions and child care training. However, because of the severity of her underlying condition, L.G. was not capable of caring for the children, especially in light of their special needs. Even during her supervised visits with the children, L.G. showed them little attention ...


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