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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Sherry R. v. State, Dept. of Health & Social Services (8/1/2003) sp-5721

Sherry R. v. State, Dept. of Health & Social Services (8/1/2003) sp-5721

     Notice:  This opinion is subject to correction before
     publication in the Pacific Reporter.  Readers are
     requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk
     of the Appellate Courts, 303 K Street, Anchorage,
     Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878,
     e-mail corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us.


            THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
                                

SHERRY R.,                    )
                              )    Supreme Court No. S-10831
             Appellant,            )
                              )    Superior Court No.
     v.                       )    4FA-98-00022 CP
                              )
STATE OF ALASKA,              )    O P I N I O N
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH &   )
SOCIAL SERVICES, DIVISION OF  )    [No. 5721 - August 1, 2003]
FAMILY & YOUTH SERVICES, )
                              )
             Appellee.             )
________________________________)




          Appeal  from the Superior Court of the  State
          of   Alaska,    Fourth   Judicial   District,
          Fairbanks, John R. Lohff, Judge pro tem.

          Appearances:   Kathleen A. Murphy,  Assistant
          Public Defender, and Barbara K. Brink, Public
          Defender,  Anchorage, for  Appellant.   Karla
          Taylor-Welch,  Assistant  Attorney   General,
          Fairbanks,  and  Gregg  D.  Renkes,  Attorney
          General, Juneau, for Appellee.

          Before:    Fabe,  Chief  Justice,   Matthews,
          Eastaugh, Bryner, and Carpeneti, Justices.

          FABE, Chief Justice.


I.   INTRODUCTION

           Sherry  R. appeals the superior court's judgment  that

terminated her parental rights to her children, Doug R., Adam R.,

Jacob R., and Amy R.1  The trial court determined that clear  and

convincing evidence established that Sherry R. failed  to  remedy

within a reasonable period of time the conduct or conditions that

placed  the  four children at substantial risk of harm.   Because

the  superior  court's  findings were not clearly  erroneous,  we

affirm the termination of Sherry R.'s parental rights.

II.  FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS    A.   The Children        Sherry  R.

has  four  children with David E.: Doug, born  1990;  Adam,  born

1994; Jacob, born 1995; and Amy, born 1997.

          1.   Doug

          Doug is Sherry R.'s oldest child.  He was born in 1990.

The  Division  of Family & Youth Services (DFYS)  took  temporary

custody of Doug in 1992 because his mother, who was living at the

Clare  House,  was  too intoxicated to care for  him.   The  case

against  Sherry  was  dismissed and  Doug  was  returned  to  her

custody.   DFYS referred Sherry to housing and public  assistance

and provided her with transportation.

           In  November  1998 Doug's foster mother  took  him  to

Tanana Valley Clinic in Fairbanks for a medical evaluation.   Dr.

Marvin  E. Bergeson, a pediatrician, evaluated Doug for signs  of

possible  fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol  effect.   From

the  evaluation,  Dr.  Bergeson suspected  prenatal  exposure  to

alcohol  and  suggested  that prenatal exposure  to  cocaine  was

possible.

           In  May 2001 a custody investigator interviewed  Doug.

When the custody investigator asked Doug if he missed his mother,

he  shrugged his shoulders and responded, "I have people to  play

with   that   keep  me  company."   According  to   the   custody

investigator,  Doug  reported that his mother drinks  frequently.

The  guardian  ad litem (GAL) noted in her report that  Doug  had

concerns  about returning to live with his mother.  Doug believes

his mother might start to drink again.

          2.   Adam

           Adam  was  born in 1994.  Dr. Bergeson diagnosed  Adam

with  atypical  fetal  alcohol syndrome in  1999.   Dr.  Bergeson

observed that Adam had a significant number of features common to

children  who are prenatally exposed to alcohol including:  short

stature,  very small eyes, ears that rotated out and are  cupped,

pegged  teeth, severely crossed eyes and one eye that  turned  in

severely.

           Adam  has  been enrolled in special education  classes

because he has a communication disorder and is visually impaired.

Additionally, his special education teacher has noted  that  Adam

shows  signs of learning disabilities in reading and  math.   The

custody  investigator reported that Adam exhibits some behavioral

problems.  He sucks his thumb constantly and can be quite moody.

          According to the GAL, Adam's teacher reported that Adam

blossomed while he was in foster care.  She reported in 2002 that

while  Adam  used  to  be "in a shell," his sense  of  humor  was

becoming  more  apparent.   She  also  noted  that  he  had  made

significant  progress towards being mainstreamed in  the  2002-03

school year.

           Adam  wishes to remain with his foster family.  He  is

concerned that if he goes to live with his mother or father, they

will fight.

          3.   Jacob

           Jacob was born in 1995.  Dr. Bergeson determined  that

Jacob  may have been prenatally exposed to alcohol.  Although  he

did not exhibit the major physical features associated with fetal

alcohol effects, he suffered from significant speech and language

delays that his pediatrician "felt were probably attributable  to

the  alcohol  exposure but could also be related  to  cocaine  or

marijuana  exposure."  Dr. Bergeson noted in his 1998  evaluation

that  Jacob  was  very difficult to understand and  was  probably

understandable less than ten percent of the time.   Additionally,

Jacob   had  a  history  of  being  socially  inappropriate   and

physically  aggressive towards others.  Jacob takes medicine  for

impulse  control and aggression.  His pediatrician has  diagnosed

him  with  unsocialized disorder and attention deficit  disorder.

The  doctor explained that unsocialized disorder means that Jacob

"doesn't  pick  up  on  social cues . . . [and  has]  no  impulse

control."

            Jacob   has   difficulty  respecting  authority   and

transferring appropriate behavior learned in one setting to a new

setting.   Jacob acts aggressively towards his peers  -  hitting,

pushing,  and grabbing other children - and has thrown chairs  in

his classroom.

           Jacob's  counselor, Karin Gillis,  reported  that  his

behavior  improved markedly after being placed  in  foster  care.

Gillis  noted that Jacob's play became less violent, his language

less foul, and he interacted more appropriately with his brother.

Gillis   attributed  these  changes  to  the  stable  environment

provided  by his foster parents.  Gillis noted that Jacob  "is  a

kid  that  has  real  special  needs  and  will  need  stability,

consistency,  of  course  lots of love and  encouragement  and  a

positive  behavioral plan . . . that the person that's  going  to

take care of him can really [] stick to."

          4.   Amy

           One  month  before Amy was born in  1997,  her  mother

tested  positive for cocaine.  Sherry admitted to  using  cocaine

during  her pregnancy.  One day after Amy's birth, DFYS took  her

into  their  custody.  Dr. Bergeson diagnosed Amy  with  atypical

fetal  alcohol syndrome and noted that she suffers from a  speech

delay.

     B.   Sherry's Substance Abuse

           Sherry  has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse  for

many  years.  Sherry's alcohol abuse precipitated DFYS's  initial

contact with her family.  DFYS first took custody of one  of  her

children  in  1992 because Sherry was intoxicated and  could  not

take  care  of him.  DFYS has received numerous reports  alleging

substance abuse by Sherry.

           Sherry  has  attempted substance  abuse  treatment  on

several  occasions  between 1996 and 2001.  The  record  suggests

that  she  has participated in seven separate treatment programs.

Of those, she has left four, three of those due to noncompliance,

has been discharged from one, and has completed two.

           In  April 1996 DFYS referred Sherry to their substance

abuse program. However, Sherry was unsuccessful in completing the

treatment.   Because of noncompliance, ongoing  substance  abuse,

and "disruptive classroom behaviors," she was discharged from the

program  in  July  1996.   It was then  recommended  that  Sherry

complete  an  intensive residential treatment  program;  she  was

referred  to  Clitheroe's twenty-eight-day program.   Sherry  was

also  unsuccessful in completing the Clitheroe program.  She left

the  program  against treatment advice in August 1996.   At  that

time,  Sherry  was  pregnant with Amy,  and  Clitheroe  therefore

recommended  that she complete a treatment program  for  pregnant

women  such  as  the  Dena Coy program.   That  same  month,  the

superior  court  ordered  Sherry not  to  return  to  the  family

residence until she had completed substance abuse rehabilitation.

It  appears that Sherry did not begin the Dena Coy program in the

fall of 1996, but rather started outpatient treatment through the

Individualized Recovery Intervention Service treatment program in

September  1996.  Between September 1996 and October  1996,  DFYS

received four reports of harm alleging substance abuse in the  R.

home.  Additionally, according to DFYS records, Sherry's progress

in  the treatment program was poor.  Anchorage police were called

to  the  home  fourteen times between October 1 and  October  27,

1996.   Sherry  was ultimately discharged from the Individualized

Recovery  Intervention  Service  treatment  program  because   of

noncompliance.

           In  November 1996 the children were removed  from  the

home  and  placed in foster care.  Sherry spent one week  in  the

Dena Coy treatment program, leaving  because she would not comply

with  their  no smoking policy.  In April 1997, two months  after

Sherry gave birth to Amy, Sherry entered the Women and Children's

Recovery Program in Fairbanks.  Between April and November  1997,

all  four  children  were returned to Sherry's physical  custody.

Sherry  completed  the Women and Children's Recovery  Program  in

November  1997  and  then  entered their  transitional  treatment

program.  The program personnel discharged Sherry in April  1998,

reporting that Sherry was "resistant to treatment."  It was  also

reported  at  that  time  that Sherry had "effectively  alienated

herself from her entire support network," that her potential  for

relapse was "high," and her progress "poor."2

           Sherry  submitted  to three of nine  requested  random

urinalysis  tests  (UAs)  between April  and  August  1998.   The

results  of all were negative.  However, shortly thereafter,  she

relapsed.  In September 1998 Sherry admitted to using crack.   In

October 1998 the children were removed from Sherry's home because

the  superior  court  found that staying  with  Sherry  would  be

"contrary to the welfare of the children."  Sherry had been using

cocaine and had resisted entering a treatment program.

          In November 1998 Sherry attempted treatment again.  She

entered  the  detoxification program at the Regional  Center  for

Alcohol and Other Addictions (RCAOA), and began their residential

program  on  December 1, 1998.  She stayed for three  months  and

successfully completed the program in March 1999.

           Sherry  relapsed  again, however.  Shortly  after  her

discharge  from  RCAOA, she used crack.   In  April  2001  Sherry

reported  that  she  had not used crack  since  June  1999.   She

continued  to  use  other drugs though.  On  December  20,  2000,

Fairbanks  police  officers conducted a child  welfare  check  at

Sherry's home which resulted in DFYS taking emergency custody  of

the  children.  A call from Doug to his father telling  him  that

Sherry  was intoxicated precipitated the police officers'  check.

When  the  police arrived at Sherry's house, they found marijuana

in  her  pocket and Sherry admitted that she had smoked marijuana

earlier  that  night.  The children were placed in  two  separate

foster homes.

          In January 2001 it was recommended that Sherry enter an

intensive  inpatient  treatment program in Anchorage  at  a  dual

diagnosis  facility.   Sherry refused  the  inpatient  treatment,

opting  for  outpatient  care  through  Inroads  to  Healing   in

Fairbanks.  The GAL reported that Sherry completed the Inroads to

Healing substance abuse program in November 2001.  The GAL  noted

that   Sherry's   substance  abuse  counselor,  Betsy   Cicilese,

expressed reluctance to accept Sherry to the program because  she

knew  that Sherry had already unsuccessfully attempted  at  least

four  treatment programs.  However, Cicilese reported that Sherry

was  one of the program's best participants.  Sherry did not miss

a  group or individual session.  Additionally, according  to  the

GAL  report,  Sherry has taken UAs on a regular  basis,  none  of

which have tested positive for drugs.  However, several specimens

were diluted.

           Sherry  admits that she has had problems with alcohol.

However,  the  degree  to  which she  acknowledges  her  drinking

problem  is  debatable.   When asked at the  termination  hearing

whether  she considers herself an alcoholic, she responded:  "I'm

not real sure.  I know I have problems with alcohol but I've been

to AA and I still go . . . .  [T]o a degree of [] alcoholism .  .

. I would agree with it.  But full blown alcoholic, I don't think

so."  Sherry testified that her last drink was July 27, 2001, and

that she has not used crack cocaine since 1999.

     C.   Abusive Relationships

           Domestic violence has been another significant  factor

in Sherry and her children's lives.  Sherry describes many of her

relationships  with  men  as abusive.  In  a  March  1996  police

report,  Sherry  stated that David E. "grabbed her  by  the  arm,

shook  her and threw her onto her bed," and that when she  landed

on  the bed, her head hit her nineteen-month-old son's head.  Two

months later, in May 1996, Sherry reported that David kicked her,

smashed a cigarette into her face, and hit her.  In November 1996

the  court removed the children from their father's home in  part

because  of reports of domestic violence between him and  Sherry.

Similarly,   shortly  after  Amy's  birth,  the  superior   court

committed  her  to DFYS's temporary custody in  part  based  upon

reports  of  domestic violence between Sherry and David.   Sherry

and David both obtained restraining orders against each other  at

different  times.  David testified that at one  point,  he  moved

with  the  children  from hotel to hotel in  Fairbanks  to  avoid

confrontations   with  Sherry.   During  a   1997   psychological

evaluation with Dr. Frank Nelson, Sherry said that when  she  was

drinking  she would sometimes yell, scream, and throw  things  at

David.

           Following Sherry's relationship with David, she became

involved  with a man named Robert whom she began dating in  1999.

According  to  Sherry, Robert was abusive to her.   During  their

relationship, Robert hit Sherry in the head with a space  heater,

which  resulted in Sherry going to the hospital.  Sherry  stopped

seeing Robert in July 2001.

           Sherry  then began seeing Jerry B.  Sherry  knew  that

Jerry  had  spent  thirty years in and  out  of  prison.   Sherry

testified that Jerry wanted to tell her about his past, but  that

because  she was "going through a lot of stuff" she did not  want

to know.  She testified that Jerry was treating her well.  "I was

trying  to get my life together and I had just gotten  out  of  a

rotten  relationship and I wasn't ready for one.  And  so  that's

when  I  said I didn't want to know all that right then."  Sherry

envisioned a future with Jerry that included his taking  part  in

raising the children.  Jerry joined Sherry in her visits with the

children.   However, she continued to avoid asking him about  his

past.   "I  figured he was treating me good, he was doing  things

for the kids, . . . he wasn't an abusive person . . . whatever he

did in his past he did his time for it and he paid his price.  So

I  .  . . didn't feel like I needed to dig into a whole bunch  of

details."   But Jerry has been convicted of a number  of  serious

felony  offenses including sexual abuse of a minor.  When  Sherry

learned  of  this offense, Jerry B. moved out.   Because  of  his

conviction, the public housing agency would not allow him to live

in Sherry's apartment.

          Even after learning of Jerry B.'s conviction for sexual

abuse  of  a minor, Sherry was reluctant to sever ties with  him.

Additionally,  Sherry seems to deny that Jerry is guilty  of  the

offense.   When  asked at the termination trial whether  she  had

been  willing to sever ties with Jerry, Sherry replied:  "There's

been  allegations and so far he hasn't been in  here  .  .  .  to

testify  to  substantiate and if this is the case and this  turns

out  to  be true, yeah, because there is no way I'd have  anybody

like  that doing anything like that to my children."  During  the

termination trial in July 2002, Sherry was seen with Jerry at one

of the R. children's soccer matches.

           Because  Sherry  identified Jerry as  her  partner  to

JoAnne  Simmerman, the DFYS social worker, Simmerman incorporated

him  into  the  R.  family case plan in March 2002.   Jerry  told

Simmerman that his thirty-year criminal history included assault,

robbery,  and car theft.  He also told her that he had a  history

of  drinking.   Based upon this information, Simmerman  requested

that  Jerry  complete a substance abuse evaluation, a  behavioral

assessment  to  determine  whether  he  needed  anger  management

classes,  and a family assessment to determine the strengths  and

weaknesses of Sherry and Jerry's relationship in terms of raising

children.   Simmerman also requested that Jerry submit to  random

urinalysis.    According  to  Simmerman,  Jerry   completed   the

requested  evaluations,  but  he never  submitted  to  urinalysis

testing.

           Sherry  and David continue to argue, even though  they

are  no longer living together.  At a visit with the children  at

DFYS  in  May 2002, they fought over a video camera.  During  the

confrontation,  Adam crawled under a table.   Thereafter,  JoAnne

Simmerman, the DFYS social worker, scheduled separate visits  for

David  and Sherry and mandated that none of the adults -  Sherry,

Jerry, or David - argue in front of the children.

           At  the  termination trial, Dr. Marti Cranor gave  her

opinions  as  to  how  Sherry's poor relationship  choices  could

adversely  affect the children.  Dr. Cranor explained that  in  a

home  where  the adults argue frequently and where there  may  be

physical fights, it is difficult to maintain the routine that the

children  need.   Additionally, Dr.  Cranor  explained  that  her

greatest  concern was that Sherry might focus on her relationship

with her boyfriend to the detriment of the children's needs.

     D.   Procedural History

            On  January  2,  2002,  DFYS  filed  a  petition  for

termination of parental rights. DFYS petitioned to terminate  the

rights  of  both  David and Sherry; however, as  David  does  not

appeal  the  termination, we focus only on the facts relevant  to

Sherry.  DFYS alleged that the R. children had been subjected  to

substantial  physical and emotional harm  and  were  at  risk  of

substantial  harm  due to their parents' actions.   The  petition

noted  Sherry's long history of substance abuse, her  ineffective

attempts  at treatment, her choice of abusive partners,  and  her

psychological problems as barriers to being an effective  parent.

DFYS  argued that Sherry had not remedied her conduct as she  had

not  followed  her case plan or the activities  directed  by  the

court.   DFYS concluded that if the R. children were placed  with

either  parent,  the children would be in danger  of  significant

emotional  or  physical  harm.  The  petition  noted:   "Although

[Sherry] is sincere in her desire to change her behaviors she has

been unable to demonstrate that she has the ability to provide  a

safe and nurturing home for her children."

           Trial  on  the petition for termination  was  held  in

Fairbanks  between July 22 and July 26, 2002, and  on  August  2,

2002  before  Superior Court Judge pro tem John  Lohff.   In  his

findings,  the  trial  judge noted that  "[w]hile  [Sherry]  made

tremendous  progress  in  her  substance  abuse  treatment,   her

sobriety is a relatively new thing in the . . . history  of  this

case."   In addition, Judge Lohff noted that Sherry seemed unable

"to  face unpleasant realities such as the troubled past  of  her

current partner and the diagnosis about the effects of alcohol on

three  of her children."  The court also observed with regard  to

Sherry's  substance abuse history: "[Sherry] is still fragile  in

her sobriety and that sobriety would be at great risk because  of

the  immense needs of the children."  Because the court concluded

that  Sherry was unable to safely and consistently care  for  her

children,  it  terminated  her rights and  responsibilities  with

regard to her children.  Sherry appeals.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

            When  reviewing  a  trial  court's  factual  findings

concerning  the  termination of parental  rights,  we  apply  the

clearly erroneous standard of review.3  We find clear error  only

when  our  review of the entire record leaves us with "a definite

and firm conviction that the superior court has made a mistake."4

We  review de novo whether the superior court's factual  findings

satisfy applicable child in need of aid statutes and rules.5

IV.  DISCUSSION

          A.    The  Trial  Court Did Not Err in Concluding  that
          Sherry Failed, Within a Reasonable Time, To Remedy  the
          Conduct  or  Conditions in the Home that Place  the  R.
          Children  at  Substantial Risk of  Physical  or  Mental
          Injury.
          
          Parental rights may be terminated under AS 47.10.088 if

the  superior  court finds by clear and convincing evidence  that

the  child  is  in need of aid under AS 47.10.011  and  that  the

parent:

          (i)  has   not   remedied  the   conduct   or
               conditions  in the home that  place  the
               child at substantial risk of harm; or
               
          (ii) has failed, within a reasonable time, to
               remedy the conduct or conditions in  the
               home that place the child in substantial
               risk so that returning the child to  the
               parent   would   place  the   child   at
               substantial risk of physical  or  mental
               injury.
               
In  making  a  determination whether the parent has  remedied  or

will, within a reasonable time, remedy the conditions in the home

that  place the child at substantial risk, the court may consider

any  fact  relating to the best interests of the  child.6   Judge

Lohff found that the children were in need of aid and that Sherry

had  failed, within a reasonable time, to remedy the  conduct  or

conditions  that  placed the R. children at substantial  risk  of

physical  or mental injury.  Accordingly, Judge Lohff  terminated

Sherry's parental rights.

           Specifically, Judge Lohff found that the  R.  children

are  in need of aid under four statutory factors: AS 47.10.011(1)

(abandonment); AS 47.10.011(8) (mental injury); AS  47.10.011(10)

(substance  abuse  of  the parent); and AS 47.10.011(11)  (mental

illness  of  the  parent).  In his ruling from the  bench,  Judge

Lohff noted that Sherry

          has made tremendous progress in her substance
          abuse  although it's a year into it and  with
          apparent   complete  success  in   terms   of
          abstinence, it's still a new thing.  We  hope
          -  all  hope it continues to be a  long  term
          thing  but it's not the complete availability
          for the children yet that we . . . need.
          
           Sherry  does not contest the court's finding that  her

children are in need of aid.  Rather, she contends that the trial

court  erred  in  concluding  that  she  failed  to  remedy   the

conditions that placed her children at risk.  Sherry argues  that

she  has  been  sober  "for  a  sufficient  period  of  time   to

demonstrate  her  ability  to remain  sober"  regardless  of  the

stresses that she might encounter while raising her children.7

           Sherry  argues  that because she had  been  sober  for

approximately  one year prior to the termination trial,  she  has

remedied,  within  a reasonable time, the conduct  or  conditions

that  put her children at risk of harm.  Sherry testified at  the

termination hearing that she had her last drink on July 27, 2001,

and  that  since  July  28, 2001, she has  attended  AA  meetings

regularly.  Since her last drink, Sherry has submitted to  random

urinalysis  testing.  This evidence supports Sherry's  contention

that she maintained sobriety for a year prior to the start of the

termination trial in July 2002.

           However, as Judge Lohff noted, Sherry's sobriety is  a

relatively  new  phenomenon in her life.  She has struggled  with

substance  abuse and relapsed after treatment a number of  times.

Additionally, although she recognizes that she has  had  problems

with  alcohol, it is unclear the degree to which she accepts  her

problem.

            Sherry   argues  correctly  that  her  situation   is

distinguishable from S.H. v. State, Department of Health & Social

Services, Division of Family & Youth Services.8  Unlike  Sherry's

maintenance of a year of sobriety, S.H. admitted to using cocaine

only four months before her termination hearing.9  Unfortunately,

even  though  Sherry may have made strides towards remedying  her

conduct,  the trial court could properly find that Sherry  failed

to  address her substance abuse problem within a reasonable time.

The  superior court is entitled to rely on a parent's  documented

history  of conduct as a predictor of future behavior.  It  seems

that  Judge Lohff relied upon Sherry's long history of  substance

abuse  in  making his determination.  He commended  her  for  her

success, but noted that her sobriety is still very new.

           Moreover, even since sobriety, Sherry has continued to

make   choices  that  affect  her  children's  lives   adversely,

specifically, her romantic involvement with Jerry. Jerry has been

convicted  of  child sexual assault.  Concerning her relationship

with Jerry, Sherry argues that she showed that she made the right

choice  by  asking  Jerry to move out of her apartment  when  she

learned of his sex offenses.  As the State correctly argues,  the

record refutes Sherry's assertions of good judgment.  Despite the

fact  that  Jerry wanted to share the details of  his  past  with

Sherry, she did not want to know because she was "going through a

lot  of  stuff."  At trial Sherry testified:  "I figured  he  was

treating  me good, he was doing things for the kids,  .  .  .  he

wasn't an abusive person . . . whatever he did in his past he did

his  time  for it and he paid his price.  So I . . . didn't  feel

like   I   needed  to  dig  into  a  whole  bunch  of   details."

Additionally, Sherry continued to see Jerry even after  he  moved

out of the house.  During the termination trial in July 2002, she

was  seen  with  him  at  one of the children's  soccer  matches.

Sherry  persisted in exposing her children to Jerry, despite  her

knowledge of Jerry's history of sexual abuse.

           There is also evidence in the record that Sherry fails

to  recognize her children's special needs.  Sherry  argues  that

she  acknowledges  their  needs, has gathered  information  about

fetal  alcohol exposure and its effects, and is prepared to  meet

her  children's  special  needs.  However,  these  arguments  are

refuted  by the record.  At trial, Sherry only admitted that  her

children's  problems "could be" due to the fact  that  she  drank

while pregnant with them.  When asked what she thought about  the

testimony   of  the  three  younger  children's  alcohol-affected

diagnoses,  she  replied "I really don't  know  what  to  think."

Sherry  has tried to learn about fetal alcohol syndrome, but  her

testimony  suggests that she does not fully accept or  understand

her children's disabilities.

            As   Judge  Lohff's  determination  was  not  clearly

erroneous, we affirm the superior court's conclusion.

V.   CONCLUSION

           Because the trial court did not clearly err in finding

that  Sherry  R. failed to remedy the conduct or conditions  that

placed the R. children at substantial risk of harm, we AFFIRM the

trial court's decision to terminate Sherry R.'s parental rights.

_______________________________
1We use pseudonyms to protect the family's privacy.
2In  terms  of Sherry's experience with the Women and  Children's
Recovery Program in Fairbanks, two reports in the record  present
two slightly different versions of the facts. The facts recounted
above  reflect those described in the Annual Review of  Child  in
Need  of Aid Report, dated September 13, 1998.  The Petition  for
Termination of Parental Rights differs in that it says that three
weeks  after  Sherry  successfully completed  the  inpatient  and
aftercare  components  of  the  Women  and  Children's   Recovery
Program, she relapsed and resumed using crack.
3S.H.  v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Div. of Family  &
Youth Servs., 42 P.3d 1119, 1122 (Alaska 2002).
4Id.
5Id. at 1122-23.
6AS 47.10.088(b).
7Sherry   also  makes  an  argument  concerning  her  personality
disorder,  however, because we affirm the trial court's  decision
on other grounds, we do not address this argument.
842 P.3d 1119 (Alaska 2002).
9Id. at 1122-24.