IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS TO: LCH, BLH, and KAGH, Minor Children.
STATE OF WYOMING, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES, Appellee (Petitioner). ELIZABETH JOY SWENSON, Appellant (Respondent),
from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable
Michael N. Deegan, Judge
Representing Appellant: DaNece Day of Steven Titus &
Associates, PC, Gillette, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; Misha Westby, Deputy Attorney General; Jill E.
Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms.
Guardian Ad Litem: Dan S. Wilde, Deputy State Public
Defender; Aaron S. Hockman, Chief Trial and Appellate
Counsel, Wyoming Guardian ad Litem Program, a Division of the
Office of the State Public Defender. Appearance by Mr.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Elizabeth Joy Swenson (Mother) appeals the termination of her
parental rights with respect to her three children, LCH, BLH
and KAGH. We affirm.
Mother presents the following issue:
Did the evidence clearly and convincingly establish that
Mother's parental rights should be terminated?
Mother has three children who are the subject of this case:
LCH born in 2009, BLH born in 2010, and KAGH born in 2013.
Mother resided in Gillette, Wyoming, with the children, and
the children's father resided in Newcastle, Wyoming. In
June 2013, Mother was involuntarily hospitalized because of
mental health problems, and the State placed the children in
protective custody. At that time, LCH was four, BLH was two,
and KAGH was about a week old. The juvenile court held a
shelter care hearing on June 19, 2013, and placed the
children in foster care. The children have remained in foster
care since then.
The Department of Family Services (DFS) developed a case plan
for Mother and the children, identifying the permanency goal
for the children as reunification with their mother. It
provided extensive services to accomplish reunification. The
children stayed overnight with Mother in August 2014, as part
of a trial home placement. That effort ended unsuccessfully
when Mother was unable to safely provide for the children.
She permitted others, some intoxicated and one who brought a
gun, in the home with the children. After the trial home
placement failed, numerous counselors attempted to assist
Mother in developing skills and abilities to consistently
recognize and act on the needs of the children.
Unfortunately, although Mother attended visitations and
counseling, she was not engaged in the activities, and the
children were not developing any relationship with her. To
the contrary, visits were chaotic and increased visitation
and joint counseling led to increased behavioral and
emotional problems for the children.
LCH, BLH and KAGH all have special emotional and physical
needs. On October 31, 2014, Mother participated in a
"Parent Child Interactional Evaluation" at the
Kempe Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
The report from that evaluation stated: "The children
require permanency as soon as possible; a potential caregiver
should be able to meet their safety, emotional, and
attachment needs immediately. . . . [A]t the time of the
evaluation it was not certain that she (Mother) had the
capacity to provide long-term care for them or meet complex
emotional needs without intensive support." It
determined that KAGH required immediate permanency, and that
Mother was unable to provide adequate ...