In re A.D.Annotate this Case
Petitioner Cynthia Clark appealed a circuit court order dismissing her petition to adopt a four-year-old child, A.D. In April 2016, the child was reunited with her mother with whom she resided until December 2016. During that time, petitioner sometimes babysat. Pursuant to court orders, the child’s father was allowed to have only supervised visitation with the child; those visits were to be arranged through, and supervised by, a parent aide. However, unbeknownst to DCYF, while babysitting the child, petitioner allowed the child’s father to visit and stay overnight. In September, the child’s father informed petitioner he believed that the child was not safe with the mother and that he wanted to be reunited with the child. Although petitioner, as a social worker, was a mandatory reporter, she did not contact DCYF about the father’s safety concerns. Rather, unbeknownst to DCYF, she began a personal relationship with the father who, at the time, was 19 while petitioner was 47 years old. Text messages between petitioner and the child’s father indicated he was a regular visitor to petitioner’s home and that he was involved in her personal life. In December, the child was removed from her mother’s care and was again placed with petitioner for foster care. A permanency hearing in the parents’ ongoing neglect case was scheduled to take place in March 2017. Shortly before it took place, DCYF learned of the relationship between petitioner and the child’s father. DCYF informed the court, and the court ordered that the child be removed from petitioner’s care and placed with another foster family. In June 2017, approximately three months after the child was removed from her care and before the parental rights of the child’s parents had been terminated, petitioner sought to adopt the child. In November, the trial court dismissed petitioner’s petition on the ground that petitioner lacked standing. The court observed that the child had never been placed with petitioner “for the purposes of adoption,” that she had been removed from petitioner’s care “for cause,” and that the child had not been in petitioner’s care and custody “for a year and a half.” Petitioner unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration. Finding no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed dismissal.