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In re Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of Z.C.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 11, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP OF: Z.C., Minor Child, S.C., Mother, Appellants-Respondents,
v.
THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES, Appellee-Petitioner

APPEAL FROM THE HENRY CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Mary G. Willis, Judge. Cause No. 33C01-1306-JT-13.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: JOHN T. WILSON, Anderson, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; ROBERT J. HENKE, CHRISTINE REDELMAN, Deputies Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

MAY, Judge. KIRSCH, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 465

MAY, Judge.

S.C. (" Mother" ) appeals a termination of her parental rights to her son, Z.C. (" Child" ). She asserts the trial court proceedings denied her due process and the evidence is insufficient to support termination of her rights. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 6, 2012, Child was born with controlled substances in his bloodstream. Mother admitted using heroin, morphine, Xanax, and Oxycontin. Due to the severe withdrawal symptoms he was experiencing, Child remained hospitalized for a number of weeks. Prior to Child's release, Mother was arrested on federal drug charges and incarcerated in Kentucky. Because Mother was incarcerated, the State obtained an emergency order to take

Page 466

custody of Child on August 22, 2012, when he was released from the hospital.

In September 2012, the court held a hearing on the State's petition to declare Child a child in need of services (" CHINS" ). Mother admitted she was unable to take care of Child because of her incarceration and because, when released from incarceration, she would need " services to address her substance abuse." (DCS Ex. 13.) The court declared Child a CHINS. One month later, the court entered a dispositional order requiring Mother to complete a number of services following her release from incarceration.

On May 23, 2013, the court modified its dispositional order to indicate unification efforts between Mother and Child were ending because Mother had not participated in services or developed a relationship with Child. (DCS Ex. 16, 24.) In August 2013, the court approved a permanency plan calling for termination of parental rights. The State filed a petition to terminate Mother's rights on June 24, 2013, and the court held a hearing thereon. Thereafter, the court entered an order that included the following pertinent findings:

25. Mother never had Child in her exclusive care or custody, nor has she had contact with the Child since the Child's detention [by DCS]. Mother is not able to care properly for Child due to her incarceration.
26. Mother has remained incarcerated in the State of Kentucky since August 22, 2012 and has an unknown release date. Mother's current incarceration is the result of federal charges for conspiracy to deal heroin conspiracy [sic] to which she has admitted guilt through a plea agreement.
27. Attorney Howard Bernstein represents Mother in her pending federal criminal case. He states that Mother has pled guilty in the heroin conspiracy case and is currently facing a minimum ten-year sentence. Mr. Bernstein believes Mother may be able to renegotiate her sentence for a lesser time period of between 18 months and ten years but the sentencing date and term of incarceration are unknown.
28. Mother has a lengthy adult criminal history beginning in 2001 that includes convictions for Illegal Consumption on three occasions, Criminal Mischief, Theft, Possession of Marijuana, Visiting a Common Nuisance, felony Possession of Cocaine, felony Possession of Schedule IV Controlled Substance with a habitual substance offender enhancement, Operating While Intoxicated, and Conversion. Mother is facing an additional Operating While Intoxicated charge.
29. Mother was nine months pregnant with the Child at the time she committed the federal drug offense for which ...

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