Respondent appeals as of right the trial court's order terminating his parental rights to the minor child, AAJB, pursuant to MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i) (conditions leading to adjudication continue to exist) and (g) (failure to provide proper care and custody). We affirm.
Respondent first argues that the trial court's order terminating his parental rights ought to be reversed because the adjudication pertaining to respondent where the trial court acquired jurisdiction over AAJB did not take place until November 2015. Specifically, respondent contends that his due process rights were violated as a result. We disagree.
As an initial matter, we observe that respondent did not raise his constitutional challenge in the trial court for the trial court's consideration. "We review unpreserved claims of constitutional error under a plain-error analysis." In re VanDalen, 293 Mich.App. 120, 135; 809 N.W.2d 412 (2011) (citation omitted). This Court set forth the requirements to avoid forfeiture of an error under the plain error rule in In re VanDalen, stating, in pertinent part, as follows:
We acknowledge that in In re Sanders, the Michigan Supreme Court held that "due process requires a specific adjudication of a parent's unfitness before the state can infringe the constitutionally protected parent-child relationship." Id. at 422. In so ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the one-parent doctrine violated the due process rights of unadjudicated parents where, in circumstances in which one parent was adjudicated unfit, the trial court could enter dispositional orders that impacted the parental rights of both parents. Id. at 407, 415, 420 n 17.
Even if we were to accept respondent's assertion that his due process rights were violated when AAJB was removed from his care and custody without an adjudication of his parental fitness, we note the very important fact that these proceedings were adjudicated with respect to respondent during a hearing held on November 4, 2015, and the trial court entered its order of adjudication with respect to respondent on November 6, 2015. At the November 4, 2015 adjudication hearing, respondent pleaded no contest to the allegations contained in an amended petition and does not contest that adjudication of his parental fitness on appeal. Notably, counsel for respondent in the lower court proceedings informed the trial court during the November 4, 2015 hearing that respondent had agreed to plead no contest to the allegations in the amended petition, and that the parties agreed that such action would "basically take care of the In Re Sanders and the jurisdictional issue."
In any event, after an order of adjudication was entered with respect to respondent, termination of his parental rights did not occur until nine months later on August 12, 2016. During those nine months, the record confirms that respondent could not maintain employment for any significant period of time and had challenges providing a stable environment for AAJB where he continually changed employment. Respondent also struggled with being able to properly budget his finances, to the extent that it impacted his ability to pay his rent and utility bills. As we will discuss in more detail later in this opinion, respondent did not participate in random drug screenings scheduled by petitioner as part of his case service plan. Specifically, during the entire nine months that petitioner provided drug testing services, respondent did not submit enough random samples for petitioner to render an informed opinion regarding whether respondent had a substance abuse problem. The only progress that respondent made on his case service plan during the nine months that elapsed between his adjudication and the termination of his parental rights was that he obtained housing with a family member. However, respondent admitted that this housing situation was not permanent and that he planned to move. Accordingly, under these facts, we are not persuaded that any delay on the part of the trial court in holding an adjudication hearing for respondent affected the outcome of the lower court proceedings.
Respondent next argues that the trial court clearly erred by finding that statutory grounds existed warranting termination of his parental rights. "To terminate parental rights, a trial court must find by clear and convincing evidence that at least one statutory ground under MCL 712A.19b(3) has been established." In re Moss, 301 Mich.App. 76, 80; 836 N.W.2d 182 (2013) (citation omitted). This Court "review[s] for clear error a trial court's finding of whether a statutory ground for termination has been proven by clear and convincing evidence." Id. (Citations omitted). "A trial court's decision is clearly erroneous `[i]f although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.'" In re Olive/Metts, 297 Mich.App. 35, 41; 823 N.W.2d 144 (2012), quoting In re Miller, 433 Mich. 331, 337; 445 N.W.2d 161 (1989) (alteration in original).
The trial court terminated respondent's parental rights pursuant to MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i) and (g). Under MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i), a trial court may terminate parental rights if it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that "182 or more days have elapsed since the issuance of an initial dispositional order," and "[t]he conditions that led to the adjudication continue to exist and there is no reasonable likelihood that the conditions will be rectified within a reasonable time considering the child's age." This Court has previously held that termination of parental rights was proper pursuant to MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i) where "the totality of the evidence amply support[ed] that [the respondent] had not accomplished any meaningful change in the conditions" that led to adjudication. In re Williams, 286 Mich.App. 253, 272; 779 N.W.2d 286 (2009).
The conditions that initially led to respondent's adjudication were respondent's unstable housing, instances of respondent physically abusing another minor child, respondent's involvement in domestic violence incidents with AAJB's mother, and respondent's admitted abuse of controlled substances. At the time of the termination of his parental rights, the trial court found that termination was proper pursuant to MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i) because (1) respondent failed to participate in random drug screens over an extended period of time, leaving the trial court without important information with respect to his substance abuse issues and (2) respondent failed to maintain long-term employment at any point during the proceedings. Our review of the record confirms that the trial court did not clearly err in its determination that termination of respondent's parental rights was necessary pursuant to MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i).
The adjudication hearing was held November 4, 2015. At that time, respondent pleaded no contest to the allegation in the amended petition for jurisdiction alleging that he had taken some of the methadone prescribed to the mother of AAJB. Petitioner scheduled random drug screenings for respondent to ensure that respondent was only using controlled substances as prescribed. However, at the April 6, 2016 review hearing, the trial court noted that respondent had missed multiple drug screens in February and March of 2016. Additionally, at the termination hearing, respondent's caseworker testified that respondent did not attend a single scheduled drug screening between December 9, 2015, and June 3, 2016. Respondent's caseworker also stated that the two drug screens respondent did provide in June 2016 were not on days that random drug screenings were scheduled.
We acknowledge that respondent testified during the termination hearing that he attempted to comply with the random drug screens, but that on multiple occasions he was unable to do so because of employment obligations or because the screening facility was closed when he arrived. On appeal, respondent also argues that his parenting time with AAJB and his counseling appointments interfered with his compliance with random drug screening. However, as the trial court noted, it is telling that respondent did not contact his caseworker or undertake efforts to work with the caseworker to ensure that screenings were conducted as required. Moreover, as the trial court emphasized, respondent went six months without a single screening. Where respondent did not comply with required drug screenings, "the totality of the evidence" supports the trial court's reasoned conclusion that respondent "had not accomplished any meaningful change" in a condition that led to his adjudication. In re Williams, 286 Mich App at 272.
The record further supports that respondent would not be able to rectify this issue within a reasonable time. See MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i). For six months between December 9, 2015, and June 3, 2016, respondent simply did not attend a single drug screening. While respondent did provide samples for drug screenings twice in June 2016, he continued to miss screenings in the weeks leading up to the termination hearing. Given respondent's lack of commitment to participating in these drug screens throughout the entire lower court proceedings, the record supports the trial court's finding that there was no reasonable likelihood that respondent would be able to rectify his substance abuse issue within a reasonable time. Because termination was proper under MCL 712.19b(3)(c)(i), we need not address the trial court's additional ground for termination. In re HRC, 286 Mich.App. 444, 461; 781 N.W.2d 105 (2009) ("Having concluded that at least one ground for termination existed, we need not consider the additional grounds upon which the trial court based its decision.").
"Once a statutory ground for termination has been proven, the trial court must find that termination is in the child's best interests before it can terminate parental rights." In re Olive/Metts, 297 Mich App at 40 (citations omitted). "[W]hether termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence." In re Moss, 301 Mich App at 90 (footnote omitted). We review for clear error the trial court's determination regarding AAJB's best interests. In re White, 303 Mich.App. 701, 713; 846 N.W.2d 61 (2014).
With respect to the trial court's determination concerning the child's best-interests, the focus is properly placed on the child, as opposed to the parent. In re Schadler, 315 Mich.App. 406, 411; 890 N.W.2d 676 (2016). In rendering the best-interest determination, the trial court may consider such factors as:
Other relevant considerations include "the parent's compliance with his or her case service plan, the parent's visitation history with the child, the children's well-being while in care, and the possibility of adoption." In re White, 303 Mich App at 714 (footnote and citations omitted). The trial court may also consider the length of time the child was in foster care or placed with relatives, and the likelihood of the child being returned home. In re Frey, 297 Mich.App. 242, 248-249; 824 N.W.2d 569 (2012).
The record supports the trial court's finding that termination was in AAJB's best interests. AAJB had spent a significant amount of time being shuttled between family placements and a foster care family. When respondent's rights were terminated, AAJB was residing in her foster home, which afforded her stability and permanence that respondent was unable to offer.