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Adoption of Eden

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Worcester

September 11, 2015

Adoption of Eden (and two companion cases [1] )

Argued October 2, 2014

Petition filed in the Worcester Division of the Juvenile Court Department on January 4, 2011.

Following review by this court, 87 Mass.App.Ct. 1109 (2015), the case was heard by Anthony J. Marotta, J.

Tamar M. Gureghian for the mother.

S. Michael Fournier for the father.

Roy Vincent Montoya for Department of Children and Families.

Christine M. Durkin for the children.

Present: Green, Rubin, & Agnes, JJ.

OPINION

[37 N.E.3d 651] Rubin, J.

This case involves the proper role of allegations in decisions involving the termination of parental rights, and the proper role of the appellate courts in reviewing those decisions. Both the mother and the father appealed in this case from decrees terminating their parental rights to their three minor children, Eden, Sam, and Mark. We affirmed the decrees with respect to the

Page 294

mother, but remanded the father's case to the Juvenile Court judge for clarification of the basis of his decision with respect to the father. See Adoption of Eden, 87 Mass.App.Ct. 1109, 26 N.E.3d 752 (2015). The judge issued supplemental findings of fact and conclusions of law, and we now affirm.

1. Background.

There was never any doubt in this case that the evidence was sufficient to support the termination of the father's parental rights. See Adoption of Peggy, 436 Mass. 690, 701, 767 N.E.2d 29 (2002) ( " Before a judge may award permanent custody of the child to the department, the judge must find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the natural parent is unfit to further the welfare and best interests of the child" ). In his original findings of fact and conclusions of law, the judge documented many specific instances of behavior that either harmed the children or placed the children at a great risk of harm. Among other things, the judge found, and it is not contested, that Eden, the oldest child, was left at home when she was five years old to babysit the then one [37 N.E.3d 652] year old middle child, Sam, who has sickle cell anemia. After the Department of Children and Families (department) obtained custody of the children, parental visits with the children frequently ended either with the parents being escorted out by the police or the visit being cut short by argument. At a meeting with a department caseworker, the mother began yelling at the ...


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