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In re M.L.T.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

May 21, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF: M.L.T., a Female Minor Child, D.W.B. and C.S.H.B., Petitioners/Appellants,
v.
M.D.T., Respondent/Respondent

Page 378

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY. Honorable Larry G. Luna, Associate Circuit Judge.

Appellant's Attorneys: William E. Lawrence, of Ozark, Missouri.

Respondent's Attorney: David V. Collingnon, of Ozark, Missouri Division One.

JEFFREY W. BATES, J. - Concurs. DANIEL E. SCOTT, J. -- Concurs.

OPINION

WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., C.J./P.J.

Page 379

C.S.H.B. (" Mother" ) and D.W.B. (" Adoptive Father" ), appeal from a judgment entered by the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court of Christian County (" trial court" ) denying a petition for adoption of M.L.T. (" Child" ), by Mother and Adoptive Father (collectively " Adoptive Parents" ).

Facts and Procedural History

We defer to the fact-findings of the trial court, and consider all evidence and inferences in the light most favorable to the judgment. In re G.C., 443 S.W.3d 738, 740-41 (Mo.App. S.D. 2014). We recite the facts according to this directive.

In September 2006, Child was born to Mother and M.D.T. (" Father), who were unmarried. Father had a continuing, but irregular relationship with Child for the first six months of her life. During the first two months, Father saw Child every Sunday. For the next four months, Father lived with Mother and saw Child almost every day. During this time, Father provided necessary support for Child in the form of diapers, formula, and contribution to daily expenses.

In March or April 2007, Father moved out. About the same time, Mother learned of pending criminal charges against Father, and thereafter prevented Father from having any contact with Child.

Since March 2007, Mother consistently prevented Father from having contact with Child, and kept Child from learning of Father's existence. Mother allowed Father's parents to visit Child, but it was understood that if Father's parents told Child of Father, Mother would terminate any contact between Father's parents and Child.

In September 2007, Father was arrested for sexual assault involving an adult. Father pled guilty and was placed on five years' probation. Thereafter, Father was arrested for various check-related and stealing offenses and up to the time of the trial of this matter, Father was in and out of several correctional facilities. Father attempted to attend Child's first birthday ...


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