Motion for Reargument Denied Aug. 29, 2013.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Matthew F. Valerio, Defender General, and Joshua S. O'Hara, Appellate Defender, Montpelier, for Appellant.
William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, Montpelier, and Kristin L. Clouser and Wendy Burroughs, Assistant Attorneys General, Waterbury, for Appellee.
Michael Rose, St. Albans, for Appellee Juvenile.
Present: REIBER, C.J., DOOLEY, SKOGLUND, BURGESS and ROBINSON, JJ.
¶ 1. Father appeals from a judgment of the superior court, family division, terminating his parental rights to the minor B.C. Father contends the trial court erroneously:
(1) denied parent-child contact in violation of his fundamental rights; (2) denied a request for an independent mental examination of the child; (3) made unsupported findings; and (4) erroneously applied the statutory best-interests criteria. We affirm.
¶ 2. The record reveals a rather tangled factual and procedural history. B.C. was born in May 2004. A parentage order in May 2006 awarded mother sole parental rights and responsibilities, and granted father visitation. Thereafter, the Department for Children and Families received reports concerning mother's use of drugs, abuse of the child, and involvement with sex offenders. For a period of time, mother entrusted care of the child to her father, the child's maternal grandfather, and after he became ill, the child was cared for by his maternal grandmother. In May 2011, a probate court order granted guardianship to the maternal grandmother.
¶ 3. Shortly thereafter, DCF received a number of reports from the child's pediatrician and school that B.C. was engaging in extremely aggressive behavior, making sexualized remarks, and threatening suicide. He was seven years old at the time. In early June 2011, B.C. was admitted to the Baird Center. A psychological evaluation found that he met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD and possibly Reactive Attachment Disorder. He was released to his grandmother but readmitted to Baird on June 29, 2011, after she reported that he was violent, destructive, and out of control. He was taken into custody by DCF that day and adjudicated CHINS in August 2011.
¶ 4. B.C. remained at Baird until October 2011, when he was transferred to a therapeutic foster home. During the period at Baird, father and other family members were afforded weekly hour-long visits and telephone calls. Visits were suspended for a time because family members had behaved poorly in the child's presence; Baird staff observed that B.C. was less frustrated and irritable during this hiatus. At a subsequent hearing, a Baird clinician recalled that B.C.'s anxiety and aggression became escalated when he was anticipating family visits, and that he required more intensive one-on-one supervision to stay regulated after visits. The clinician recalled that family visits ...