In re M.V.H.; M.V.H., Appellant, In re M.V.H.; L.H., Appellant, In re L.F.G.; L.H., Appellant.
May 17, 2016
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(ADA-81-12 & ADA-20-13) (Hon. Errol R. Arthur, Magistrate
Judge) (Hon. Anthony C. Epstein, Reviewing Judge)
J. Susskind for appellant M. V.H.
S. Rappaport for appellant L.H.
Vera Osakwe for appellee L.F.G.
Rhondalyn Primes Okoroma, Assistant Attorney General, with
whom Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of
Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L.
AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for the
District of Columbia.
Forsythe, with whom Melissa Colangelo, and Abraham Sisson,
were on the brief, for guardian ad litem Children's Law
Glickman and Thompson, Associate Judges, and Reid, Senior
case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the
briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration
whereof, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion filed
this date, it is now hereby
and ADJUDGED that the judgment of the trial court is
Phyllis D. Thompson. Associate Judge
(the biological mother of the child A.H.) and M.V.H.
(A.H.'s maternal grandmother) appeal the Superior Court
order granting the adoption petition of L.F.G. (A.H.'s
foster mother) and denying M.V.H.'s competing petition,
to which L.H consented. We affirm.
was born on February 19, 2010. For the first year of her
life, she lived with L.H. in M.V.H.'s home, along with
L.H.'s minor son (A.H.'s brother), L.H.'s sister
M.H., and M.H.'s two minor children. On October 28, 2010,
A.H. was taken to the hospital with a left femur fracture and
a tibia fracture, injuries that L.H. could not explain and
that the hospital physician suspected were the result of
abuse. After A.H. was treated and released, the District of
Columbia Child and Family Services Agency ("CFSA")
entered into a safety contract with L.H. requiring, inter
alia, that L.H. take A.H. to the hospital immediately if
she appeared to be in pain. Approximately four months later,
on March 1, 2011, A.H. was again brought to the hospital,
this time with a right femur fracture, a left tibia fracture,
a left humerus fracture, a right radial fracture, and facial
bruising. Dr. Tanya Hinds, the treating
pediatrician, concluded that the injuries had occurred at
different times over the previous approximately four weeks
and that the femur fracture would have caused "a lot of
distress" to a child of A.H.'s age. Dr. Hinds also
concluded, "with a reasonable degree of medical
certainty[, ]" that A.H. had suffered child abuse on
more than one occasion.
was removed from L.H.'s care on March 1, 2011, and was
placed with L.F.G. on April 5, 2011. On November 9, 2011,
after a multi-day hearing, Magistrate Judge Errol R. Arthur
sustained the government's allegation that A.H. had been
physically abused and adjudged A.H. to be a neglected child
pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-2301 (9)(A)(i), (ii). He
initially set a permanency goal of reunification of A.H. with
L.H. but, on April 30, 2012, changed the permanency goal to
adoption. On May 12, 2012, L.F.G. filed a petition to adopt
A.H. M.V.H. filed a competing adoption petition on February
8, 2013, to which L.H. formally consented on March 27, 2014.
Over twenty-six days, from February through December 2014,
Magistrate Judge Arthur held a trial on the competing