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In re V.C.N.C. & T.D.C.C.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

March 10, 2015

IN THE INTEREST OF: V.C.N.C. & T.D.C.C.,
v.
C.N.C. & T.D.C.C., Minor Children

Page 444

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable David Mason.

For Mother, APPELLANT: Kerry D. Allen, Chesterfield, MO.

For Van Courtney, APPELLANT: Deborah M. Bird, St. Louis, Mo.

For Children's Division, Respondent: CHRIS KOSTER, Gary L. Gardner, Jefferson City, MO.

For Guardian Ad Litem, Respondent: Ashley Ratcliffe Beumer, St. Louis, Missouri.

Patricia L. Cohen, P.J., concurs. Robert M. Clayton III, J., concurs.

OPINION

ROY L. RICHTER, Judge.

Page 445

Van Courtney (" Father" ) and Tammy Harris (" Mother" ) (collectively, " Appellants" ) appeal from the trial court's judgment terminating parental rights (" TPR" ) pursuant to Sections 211.447.5(1)-(3), RSMo (2014).[1] Appellants argue that no clear, cogent, and convincing evidence for termination exists on the record, that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their motions for a continuance, and that the trial court improperly considered evidence that was not before it. We affirm.

I. Background

V.C.N.C. and T.D.C.C. are twin girls born to Appellants in May 2010. Both children were taken into Children's Division protective custody on September 9, 2010, due to medical or nutritional neglect, and on October 13, 2010, an adjudication and dispositional hearing was held and found that Appellants could not provide the medical care the girls needed without the assistance of the Children's Division. Both girls have been in custody of the Children's Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services (" Children's Division" ) since September of 2010.

At the dispositional hearing in October of 2010, both parents were ordered to: have visitation with the girls at least semi-monthly; obtain and maintain financial stability or regular employment; obtain and maintain appropriate housing; submit to blood, breath, and urine testing upon request; enroll in and successfully complete family counseling; provide information on any relatives who may be fit, willing, and able to be caretaker of the girls; attend all medical appointments for the girls; and submit to a psychological evaluation with a parenting assessment, and comply with any recommended treatment. The record on appeal does not include any transcript of the October 13, 2010 hearing, nor does it include any petition or motion indicating why Appellants were ordered to comply with these conditions when the girls were taken into Children's Division custody due to the need for medical services that Appellants could not provide.

The Children's Division filed its TPR petition on October 17, 2013, alleging that Appellants had abandoned the children pursuant to Section 211.447.5(1), that Appellants had abused or neglected the children pursuant to Section 211.447.5(2), and that Appellants failed to rectify the conditions which led to assumption of jurisdiction by the court, pursuant to Section 211.447.5(3).

Page 446

The trial was held on June 14, 2014. When the case was called by the Honorable David C. Mason in the morning, neither Mother nor Father was present in the courtroom, although their respective counsels were present and both made motions for continuance, which the trial court denied.

The trial court heard testimony from Erica Furrer, the twins' occupational therapist, and from Misty Jones, the twins' assigned case manager from Missouri Baptist Children's Home. Both Furrer and Jones testified that Mother and Father were involved and active in the twins' lives at first, but that both parents had become uninvolved, especially after a March 2012 family support team meeting. At that meeting, Mother and Father were asked to suggest relatives who could permanently adopt the twins. They suggested Father's aunt, and even signed consent forms for the children to be adopted by her, but that ultimately did not happen. After that meeting, Mother and Father " withdrew" and " stopped really communicating" with the Children's Division. Their visitation ...


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