Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department A
Not for Publication -Rule 103(G) Ariz. R. P. Juv. Ct.; Rule 28 ARCAP
Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. JS507148 The Honorable Bradley H. Astrowsky, Judge
Robert D. Rosanelli, Attorney at Law Robert D. Rosanelli Attorney for Appellant Kathy M.
Law Office of Anne M. Williams, P.C. Anne M. Williams Attorney for Appellee Connor S.
MICHAEL J. BROWN, Judge.
¶1 Kathy M. (Mother), the biological mother of E.S. (born June 2009), appeals the juvenile court's termination of her parental rights on the ground of abandonment. For the following reasons, we affirm.
¶2 On April 17, 2012, Connor S. (Father), the biological father of E.S., petitioned to terminate Mother's parental rights to E.S. on the grounds of abandonment, neglect, incapacity, and criminal conviction. In a subsequent amended petition, Father narrowed the grounds to abandonment and neglect.
¶3 Mother contested the severance petition, and the juvenile court held a two-day severance hearing. Father testified that he and Mother were involved in a romantic relationship for approximately three years and living together at the time E.S. was born. At some point during their relationship, Child Protective Services (CPS) filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights to her two older children from a previous relationship.[] As part of that termination case, Mother and Father were asked to submit to drug testing. At the time of the request (March 2010), E.S. was nine months old. Father's drug test was negative, but Mother's test was positive. Based on the drug test results, CPS presented Father with an ultimatum—either he and E.S. reside elsewhere or CPS would remove E.S. from his custody. Father elected to relocate with E.S., and they began living with Father's parents.
¶4 After Father and E.S. moved, Father and Mother entered an informal agreement permitting Mother to have visitation with E.S. every Monday with maternal aunt's supervision. In May 2011, Father unilaterally terminated the visitation because "something happened" during every visit. On one occasion, gum became tangled in E.S.'s hair and Mother "chopped" it. On another occasion, E.S. was returned home "starving" and "filthy" with a diaper rash. Father also learned that maternal aunt was not always present to supervise, as agreed, and that Mother's brother, "a convicted child molester" who was not permitted to be around young children, was sometimes in the home. Finally, Father testified that during the last visit, E.S.'s finger was hurt by a bowling ball and Mother failed to timely notify him or seek medical treatment.
¶5 Since the regular visitation ceased in May 2011, Mother saw E.S. on only two occasions. On E.S.'s second birthday, June 2011, Mother attended a birthday party for E.S. and wished her a happy birthday, hugged her, and gave her a "pack of gummy bears" as a birthday present. In October 2011, Mother attended a Subway "grand opening" and Father and E.S. attended as well. Father testified that during the half-hour or so he and E.S. were at the store, Mother saw them but her only contact with them was to say goodbye when they left.
¶6 Father testified that Mother never sent cards, gifts, or letters to E.S. and had not provided any financial support since June 2010. Father also testified that Mother has not visited E.S. since October 2011 and made only two attempts to schedule a visit since that time. On one occasion, Mother extended E.S. an invitation to attend her youngest child's birthday party. Father declined the invitation "because we had prior -- arrangements." On the second occasion, Mother made a request for visitation via Facebook and Father denied the request.
¶7 Father married his girlfriend of approximately two years in October 2012. He testified that E.S. identifies his wife as her mother and his wife wants to adopt E.S.
¶8 Mother acknowledged that Father terminated her regular visitation with E.S. because of safety concerns. Mother also acknowledged that she has not seen E.S. since October 2011. Mother further admitted that she has not provided for E.S. financially since March 2010. Contrary to Father's testimony, Mother testified that she asked for visitation ...