Heard: February 10, 2017.
filed in the Middlesex County Division of the Juvenile Court
Department on March 10, 2011.
case was heard by Kenneth J. King, J.
Deborah Sirotkin Butler for the mother.
Nehring for the father.
William T. Cuttle for Department of Children and Families.
L. Kruger for the child.
Present: Milkey, Hanlon, & Neyman, JJ.
case involves the welfare of a child to whom we shall refer
as Bianca. After trial, a Juvenile Court judge found the
child's mother and father unfit, and issued decrees
terminating their parental rights. See G. L. c. 119, §
26; G. L. c. 210, § 3. The judge approved a plan put
forward by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for
Bianca to be adopted by a couple who were close friends of
the father's family and who have cared for Bianca for
much of her life.Finally, the judge ordered regular
postadoption contact with both parents, but permitted the
preadoptive parents to terminate visitation with the mother
or father if they determined it was no longer in Bianca's
appeal, the mother and father contest the termination of
their parental rights. The father also challenges the
approval of the DCF adoption plan over his plan that the
preadoptive parents be made Bianca's guardians so that he
could seek custody in the future. The mother requests that
the case be remanded to determine whether she remains unfit
and to determine Bianca's current best interests. We
result of the father's abuse of the mother, Bianca's
life has been fraught with instability and exposure to
violence. In addition, the mother has long struggled with
substance abuse, and due to incarceration or treatment, she
was frequently unavailable to care for Bianca. Little would
be served by providing further detail of the mother's
history, particularly because she does not contest that she
was unfit at the time of trial.
father physically abused the mother throughout their
marriage, including during the mother's pregnancy with
Bianca, who was born in January, 2010. The findings of fact
detail twenty specific incidences of domestic violence, ten
of which occurred in Bianca's presence. In March, 2011,
when Bianca was fourteen months old, DCF filed a petition for
care and protection. See G. L. c. 119, § 24. By
stipulation, the father was given conditional custody of
Bianca, with the preadoptive mother providing primary
caretaking responsibilities for her during the
week. Among other conditions, the parents were
not to be together with Bianca without the presence of a
third party. The father violated this condition and assaulted
the mother again in June, August, and September, 2011. In
October, temporary custody was awarded to DCF, and Bianca was
placed with the preadoptive parents. The father completed a
forty-week intimate partner abuse education program for
domestic abusers (formerly known as a batterers'
intervention program), and Bianca was returned to the
father's care in ...