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Denilla S. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department B

June 13, 2013

DENILLA S., Appellant,
v.
ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY, A.S., Appellees.

Not for Publication -Rule 28, Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. JD509056 The Honorable Helene F. Abrams, Judge

Gillespie, Shields & Durrant, P.L.C. By DeeAn Gillespie Strub Attorneys for Appellant

Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General By Amanda Holguin, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellees

MEMORANDUM DECISION

DONN KESSLER, Judge

¶1 Denilla S. ("Mother") appeals the juvenile court's denial of her motion to set aside the severance of her parental rights to her son A.S.[1] For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 In January 2011, the Arizona Department of Economic Security ("ADES") filed a dependency petition alleging Mother was unable to parent A.S. due to neglect and substance abuse. A.S. was placed in temporary foster care. In March 2011, the juvenile court found A.S. to be dependent and set the case plan to family reunification.

¶3 At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court ordered that Mother should be provided with urinalysis testing, substance abuse assessment, and parent aide services. The January, July, and September 2011 progress reports, however, state that despite several attempts, ADES could not locate Mother and, accordingly, could not provide her services. The January 2011 report also states that prior to A.S.'s removal from Mother's care, Mother admitted to being diagnosed as bipolar and not taking her medication.

¶4 In September 2011, ADES moved to change the case plan to severance and adoption, and in October 2011, moved to terminate Mother's parental rights based on abandonment. The September 2011 report notes that A.S.'s maternal aunt in Ohio was willing to adopt A.S. if family reunification was not possible. Mother was initially served by publication and later found at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital.

¶5 The juvenile court held a severance hearing in December 2011. [2] Mother appeared telephonically and advised the court that she was not contesting the motion for termination of parental rights. The minute entry indicates that the court had discussions with Mother's counsel and Mother's guardian ad litem ("GAL") about her appearance and Mother was read and understood the "Notice to Parent in a Termination Action." Five minutes after she telephonically appeared, Mother was disconnected from the courtroom, although her counsel and GAL remained. The court then heard evidence from ADES and granted the motion.

¶6 In January 2012, the juvenile court terminated Mother's parental rights on the grounds of abandonment, explaining:

[Mother's] last contact with [A.S.] was 1/14/2011 when [A.S.] was removed. Mother was invited to the [Team Decision Making] meeting, the initial meeting, and did not appear. Another meeting was set for 1/18/2011 and again [Mother] did not appear. Mother knows [A.S.] is in care and that [ADES] would provide services for her. Letters and phone calls were made to advise [M]other of the services available as well as parent locators. Mother has not provided any reasonable support to [A.S.], has not sent any cards, gifts or letters to [A.S.] or to the foster family. Again, [M]other does know how to make contact and she has failed to maintain a normal parental relationship with [A.S.] for a period of over six (6) months. There are no other efforts that could be utilized to engage [M]other in the services.

¶7 Thereafter, in a January 2012 report, the Foster Care Review Board ("the Board") expressed concern over the length of time the maternal aunt's home study would take as this would result in A.S.'s continued bonding with his foster parents. The Board further noted that A.S. had not established a relationship with his maternal aunt, and according to his foster placement A.S. was thriving in their home. As a result, the Board ...


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