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In the Interest of A.B.L.C.

April 17, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B.L.C., A CHILD


From the 285th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2012-PA-00158 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen Angelini, Justice

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Opinion by: Karen Angelini, Justice

Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice

AFFIRMED

This is an appeal from an order terminating D.H.'s parental rights to her daughter, A.B.L.C. We overrule all of the issues presented on appeal, and affirm the trial court's termination order.

THE TRIAL EVIDENCE

At trial, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services presented evidence that it took custody of A.B.L.C. at the hospital shortly after her birth. A.B.L.C.'s meconium*fn1 tested positive for marijuana, and her urine tested positive for opiate. A.B.L.C.'s mother, D.H., also tested positive for marijuana while at the hospital. D.H. told a Department caseworker she had smoked marijuana one week before A.B.L.C. was born. D.H. also told a Department caseworker that her parental rights had been terminated as to four other children. Copies of the orders terminating D.H.'s parental rights as to her four other children were admitted into evidence.

D.H. testified on her own behalf at trial. D.H. admitted she smoked marijuana at the beginning of her pregnancy to relieve nausea and vomiting. D.H. further testified that, about a month after A.B.L.C. was born, she signed an affidavit relinquishing her parental rights to A.B.L.C. According to D.H., she signed the affidavit because she was told it was the only way one of her family members would be considered as a potential caregiver for A.B.L.C. In addition, D.H. expressed a desire to revoke the affidavit.

After hearing all of the evidence, the trial court ordered the termination of D.H.'s parental rights to A.B.L.C. on two grounds. First, the trial court ordered that D.H.'s parental rights be terminated on the ground that she voluntarily left A.B.L.C. alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months. Second, the trial court ordered that D.H.'s parental rights be terminated on the ground that her parent-child relationship was terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that her conduct was in violation of § 161.001(1)(D) or (E) of the Texas Family Code. The trial court did not base its decision to terminate D.H.'s parental rights on her affidavit of relinquishment. D.H. appealed.

FAILURE TO OFFER A SERVICE PLAN

D.H. argues the trial court erred by not offering her a service plan. According to D.H., a service plan would have given her an opportunity to show that she could parent A.B.L.C. The Texas Family Code provides the trial court may waive the requirement of a service plan if it finds the existence of aggravated circumstances. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 262.2015(a) (West Supp. 2012). Aggravated circumstances include (1) the parent's parental rights with regard to another child have been involuntarily terminated based on a finding that the parent's conduct violated Section 161.001(1)(D) or (E) of the Texas Family Code, or (2) the parent's parental rights with regard to two other children have been involuntarily terminated. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 262.2015(b) (5), (7) (West Supp. 2012). Here, the evidence shows D.H.'s parental rights were involuntarily terminated as to four other children. The evidence also shows the termination of D.H.'s parental rights as to three of these children was based on a finding that D.H.'s conduct violated Section 161.001(1)(D) or (E) of the Texas Family Code. There was no error related to the trial court's failure to offer D.H. a service plan.

FAILURE TO CONSIDER A FAMILY MEMBER AS A CAREGIVER

D.H. next argues the Department failed to comply with section 262.114 of the Texas Family Code. Under section 262.114, the Department is required to perform a background check and evaluate each person identified as a potential relative or designated caregiver, and complete a home study of the most appropriate substitute caregiver, if any, before the full adversary hearing. See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. ยง 262.114 (a) (West Supp. 2012). However, the failure to conduct or obtain a home study under section 262.114 does not preclude termination. In re G.B. II, 357 S.W.3d 382, 384 (Tex. App.--Waco 2011, no pet.). ...


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