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Breauna N., concurring opinion, attorneys, footnotes.

SAUFLEY, J., with whom, DANA and CALKINS, JJ., join, concurring.

	[¶25]  I concur with the result in this case because the District Court's
findings are supported in the record, see In re Denise M., 670 A.2d 390,
393 (Me. 1996), because it is clear that Breauna has developed an
attachment to her foster family which if broken, would actually cause her
harm, see In re Ashley A., 679 A.2d 86, 89 (Me. 1996), and because
Breauna's mother unfortunately delayed too long in getting her own life
together sufficiently to provide a safe home for Breauna, see In re Serena C.,
650 A.2d 1343, 1344-45 (Me. 1994).
	[¶26]  I write separately, however, to address the egregious delays that
occurred during this troubling process.  The system failed this little girl and
her family.  Because of this failure, Breauna will be deprived of a life with the
family that wanted her.  This simply should not have occurred. 
	[¶27]  In order to understand my concerns, a more detailed history of
the process is necessary.  In the midst of a troubled adolescence, Breauna's
mother left home when she was fourteen years old.  On February 9, 1995, at
the age of fifteen, she gave birth to Breauna, a child with multiple health
problems.  She lived briefly with the child's father.  Her own father, a
serviceman then stationed in Italy, flew to Maine to be with his daughter
after she gave birth and later suggested that his daughter and Breauna come
back to live with him.  She declined his invitation.  Breauna's health failed
during her first year of life, and the Department took custody from the
overwhelmed teenage mother in March of 1996, just a few weeks after
Breauna's first birthday.  There is little doubt that the Department's initial
action in taking Breauna into its care was both necessary and appropriate. 
	[¶28]  Breauna's grandfather, who had already demonstrated his
concern for his granddaughter by coming personally to Maine at the time of
her birth and by supporting his daughter financially, made his interest
known to the Department immediately after Breauna was placed in the
Department's custody and offered to take custody from the Department.  He
filed a formal motion to intervene in April of 1996 and participated
consistently, either personally or through counsel, in the proceedings.  By
September of 1996, the guardian ad litem had gathered a significant amount
of information regarding Breauna's grandfather and recommended that the
court consider transferring responsibility for Breauna to her grandfather. 
	[¶29]  Department policy apparently requires that a home study be
performed to gather the information necessary for the Department and the
court to make an informed determination about the appropriateness of a
placement with a relative.  The Department therefore required the
grandfather to submit to a home study of his new residence in Germany.  To
this end, the grandfather researched the matter and quickly located an
individual qualified to perform the DHS mandated home study.  
	[¶30]  The Department was apparently unwilling or unable to
expeditiously confirm the credentials of the person suggested for the job by
the grandfather, and instead chose to search independently for a
professional to perform the study.  Without any clear reason, it took the
Department one full year merely to begin the process of the home study by
locating a suitable person.  Ironically, the person chosen was the person
suggested by the grandfather a year previously.  The reason for the year long
delay is never made clear in the record.  To her credit, the caseworker
testified straight forwardly that "It's a very lengthy process.  It's a lot of
paperwork.  It's a lot of shuffling.  And there is no other excuse, other than
it's a long, lengthy process." 
	[¶31]  That "long, lengthy process" resulted in the passage of a full
year in Breauna's life without movement toward a placement with her
family.{5} Even after the completion of the home study, quite favorable to the
grandfather, the Department took no action to move toward a family
placement.  As the guardian ad litem stated in a report dated September 16,
1997:
[I]t does appear that we have placed [the grandparents] in an
extremely difficult position by delaying the Home Study and then
penalizing them for that delay by using Breauna's attachment to
[her foster mother] as one of the reasons for maintaining the
foster placement for one year.{6}  
The guardian also recommended that Breauna have "a period of daily
unsupervised contact" with her grandparents.  Notwithstanding this
recommendation, it took a request for hearing from the grandfather to bring
the matter to the court's attention.  Fully six months after the initial
recommendation, the court forced the Department to undertake
reunification plans.
	[¶32]  At that hearing, the court (Goranites, J.) appropriately required
an immediate and "intensive" reunification plan for the placement of
Breauna with her grandfather.  Unfortunately, by the time that plan was
implemented in February of 1998 Breauna was three years old.  She had
been in the Department's custody for exactly two years and was attached to
her foster mother.  The experts retained to draw up the intensive plan
structured an eight-week introduction, during which Breauna and her
grandfather would have two, two-hour supervised visits each week.  Because
of Breauna's age, attachments, and fragility, the process was necessarily
slow.  The grandfather, who had informed the reunification team that he was
unable to remain in Maine for longer than four weeks, became frustrated
with the entire process and eventually abandoned efforts to cooperate with
the Department.  Breauna's mother, with whom the Department had
temporarily suspended reunification efforts in order to concentrate on the
grandfather, returned to Maine in August of 1998 to attempt reunification
herself.  Two weeks later, the Department filed a petition to terminate her
parental rights. 
	[¶33]  In termination of parental rights cases, the timeframe must be
"measured from the child's perspective."  In re Leona T., 609 A.2d 1157,
1159 (Me. 1992).  A one-year delay can be a lifetime from an infant's
perspective.  In this case, two years passed between the time the
Department took Breauna into its care and the implementation of the
intensive reunification plan.  No child or family should have to wait that long
simply because of a process that is "a lot of paperwork . . . a lot of shuffling."
	[¶34]  The Legislature recently responded to concerns about delays in
permanency planning for children in foster care with the enactment of a
comprehensive bill intended to assure more speedy resolutions for such
children.  See P.L. 1997, ch. 715, § B-14.  Particularly recognizing the harm
that can be done to a child who has no permanent home, the Legislature
mandated that, except in unusual circumstances, the Department move to
terminate the parental rights of any child who has been in the Department's
care for "15 out of the most recent 22 months."  22 M.R.S.A. § 4052(2-A)(A)
(Supp. 1998).{7}  Here, Breauna had been in care for 24 months before the
Department made an effort to place her with her grandfather.  It comes as
no surprise that the effort would prove nearly impossible for out-of-state
relatives after such a lengthy passage of time.
	[¶35]  I do not question the Department's responsibility to assure that
a prospective placement with a child's relatives will be a safe and loving
placement.{8}  The process of gathering that information, however, should be
done expeditiously.  Whether the delay was caused by the Department of
Human Services in Maine, other components of the international child
placement bureaucracy, or a combination of both,{9} the delay proved fatal to
the final efforts to place Breauna with her grandfather.  
	[¶36]  To date, Breauna has spent over three and one-half years with
the same foster family-nearly eighty per cent of her young life.  Her
mother's inexperience and departure from the country as soon as Breauna
was taken into custody combined to create a situation where she cannot now
step back into Breauna's life.  There is little doubt that Breauna has grown
attached to her foster family and that removing her from their care at this
late date could be devastating.  We simply cannot turn back the clock for
Breauna.
	[¶37]  However, as the Department attempts to comply with the
mandates created by the recent actions of the Legislature, all persons
involved with child protective proceedings must attend to the child's needs
with much greater speed.  Without such efforts by all involved, the loss of a
family, sadly suffered by Breauna, may be repeated.  Accordingly, I concur
that the District Court's decision is supported by the record, but I would
urge that all involved work to assure that what happened to this family does
not occur again.
Attorneys for appellants: James S. Hewes, Esq. 48 Free Street Portland, ME 04101 Caroline J. Gardiner, Esq. 80 Exchange Street Portland, ME 04101 Attorneys for appellee: Andrew Ketterer, Attorney General Michael C. Kearney, Asst. Attorney General 6 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0006 Guardian ad Litem: Kevin F. Gordon, Esq. Pierce Atwood One Monument Square Portland, ME 04101-1110 Attorney for intervenors: Anne C. Pomroy, Esq. P O Box 750 Old Orchard Beach, ME 04064-0750 Attorney for father: Edmund R. Folsom, Esq. 17 South Street Portland, ME 04101
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . The grandfather had retired from his position with the Air Force, but his wife was still a member of the Air Force, and as her spouse, he was required to follow the regulation. Otherwise, they would lose their cost of living allowance. {2} . We stress that our task as an appellate court is to determine whether the record supports the trial court's findings. Thus, we do not independently examine the conduct of DHS. See In re David H., 637 A.2d 1173, 1176 (Me. 1994) (affirming termination of parental rights because record supported court's factual findings, "independent of any findings as to the conduct of DHS.") {3} . Section 4055 only requires that the record support a finding that the mother was unwilling or unable to either take responsibility for or protect her child from jeopardy. See 22 M.R.S.A. § 4055 (1992 & Supp. 1998). In this case, the trial court found ­p; and the record supports ­p; that the mother was both unwilling and unable to take responsibility for and protect her child from jeopardy. {4} . The grandfather also asserts that the letter was admissible under M.R. Evid. 803 (3). The grandfather is precluded from raising the issue under M.R. Evid. 803 (3) because it was not offered pursuant to 803 (3) in the trial court. See Davis v. Picciandra, 662 A.2d 898, 899 (Me. 1995) (refusing to address an argument because appellant failed to properly preserve the issue by not raising it before the trial court). {5} . During this time the grandfather made efforts to maintain contact with Breauna. He flew back to Maine to visit Breauna in October of 1996, April and August of 1997, and January, February and March of 1998. {6} . See In re Justin T., 640 A.2d 737, 739 (Me. 1994) (cautioning courts not to use the fact that the Department has restricted the relationship of a parent and a child as evidence that termination is in the child's best interest). {7} . This provision is one of many required to be in place in any state receiving federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance. See 42 U.S.C. § 671(16), § 675(5)(E) (1994 &
Supp. 1997). {8} . The Department did not act unreasonably in declining to turn Breauna over to her grandfather without first assuring that she would be safely cared for in his home. Once a child is actually in the legal custody of the Department, certain requirements must be met before the child may be placed with a relative. See 22 M.R.S.A. § 4005-B(4) (1992 & Supp. 1998). Nor do I question the need for the Department to assure that the home offered by Breauna's grandfather was a safe, loving home and one that did not contain the parenting deficits Breauna had experienced in her mother's care. {9} . There are significant restrictions on the Department's freedom to place a child in its custody in the home of any person not living in Maine. See, e.g., The Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, 22 M.R.S.A. § 4191-4297 (1992).

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