IN THE INTEREST OF L.L.G., P.L.G., AND C.L.G., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 315th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2014-05822J
consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.
Brett Busby Justice.
trial court terminated the parental rights of M.G.
("Mother") and G.G. ("Father") with
respect to their children, Luke, Paige, and Chris,
appointed the Texas Department of Family and Protective
Services ("the Department") to be the
children's managing conservator. Mother appeals,
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support the
trial court's finding that termination of her parental
rights was in the children's best interest. She does not
challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support the
findings on the predicate statutory bases for termination,
nor does she challenge the Department's appointment as
managing conservator. Father does not appeal. Because the
termination is supported by sufficient evidence, we affirm
Department received a referral in November 2014 alleging
Mother was not supervising and was using drugs around twins
Luke and Paige, then almost three years old, and
eight-month-old Chris. The reporter stated Mother routinely
used methamphetamine while the children were in her care. She
would lock the children in a room in the house in which they
were living, and the twins would climb out the window and
wander to a neighbor's home. The referral also mentioned
there was a pool in the backyard. Mother was asked but
refused to submit to a drug test. The Department removed the
children from Mother's care a few days later.
had history with the Department. She had twice been reported
to the Department for negligent supervision, and each time
she was said to be using drugs. The allegations in the first
referral were ruled out. The record indicates the disposition
of the second referral was "reason to believe / ruled
removal, the trial court signed an order requiring both
parents to comply with any family service plan by the
Department. Mother's service plan identified the tasks
and services she needed to complete before the children could
be returned to her care. The plan required Mother to submit
to random drug testing; refrain from participating in
criminal activity or interacting with people who have a
history of drug use; submit to a substance abuse assessment
and follow the assessor's recommendations; participate in
individual therapy and follow the therapist's
recommendations; undergo a psychosocial assessment and follow
the assessor's recommendations; complete a parenting
class; maintain regular contact with the Department; attend
and participate in all hearings, permanency conferences,
scheduled visitations, and meetings requested by the court or
the Department; and maintain contact with her caseworker.
Father, and Department caseworker Marion Hackett testified at
trial. Among the documents admitted into evidence were
Mother's 2013 conviction for failure to identify herself
to a peace officer, her 2015 indictment for aggravated
robbery, the family service plan the Department created for
her, her certificate of completion for the Mentoring Moms
program, and her attendance sheets for Alcoholics Anonymous /
Narcotics Anonymous meetings and a Women and the Law class.
admitted abusing methamphetamine. She said that before the
Department removed her children, she used the drug
"periodically" and "socially" but never
around her children. On the day the Department investigated
the November 2014 referral, Mother refused to take a drug
test. After her children were removed, Mother smoked or
snorted methamphetamine twice a day, every day. A high from
methamphetamine lasted five hours, and Mother confirmed she
was high most of her waking hours. Her drug habit cost her
$20 per day, which she earned by cleaning houses.
was incarcerated at least twice in the year following her
children's removal. She was jailed for 22 days in the
spring of 2015 for credit card abuse. She was arrested again
for credit card abuse on November 10, 2015 and had been
incarcerated on that charge for six months at the time of
trial. Then, on November 21, Mother was indicted for an
aggravated robbery said to have occurred on November 8.
Mother and the State had reportedly reached a plea agreement
on that charge at the time of trial. The record does not
indicate if or how long Mother would remain incarcerated, and
therefore unable to take care of her children, under the
terms of that agreement.
18 months between her children's removal and trial,
Mother visited her children five times. She said she did not
believe she was stable enough to be around her children more
frequently because she was abusing drugs.
did not attend any court proceedings in this case except
trial. She said she was scared to go to court due to her drug
addiction and having a warrant for her arrest. The record
does not indicate if there was a warrant for Mother's
arrest between November 9, 2014, when the children were
removed, and November 8, 2015, the day she is alleged to have
committed aggravated robbery.
called Hackett once at the beginning of the case and made
arrangements to meet to discuss her service plan but did not
appear for that meeting. The children's maternal
grandmother, who was caring for the children, urged Mother
many times to contact Hackett again, but she never did.
Mother did not meet the children's guardian ad litem /
attorney at litem until the day of trial, though he talked
regularly with the grandmother.
testified Mother failed to complete the requirements of her
service plan. Mother did not initiate, let alone complete,
the individual therapy, substance abuse assessment,
psychosocial assessment, or parenting class required by the
service plan. She did not submit to random drug testing.
Mother failed to attend court hearings, meetings with
Department personnel, or family group conferences. She also
failed to maintain contact with her caseworker. Mother
testified she did not know that if she did not complete the
required services, her parental rights could be terminated.
Hackett testified she never went over the service plan with
children were placed with their maternal grandmother when
they were removed. According to Hackett, the permanency plan
was for their grandmother to adopt the children or be their
managing conservator. Then in early 2016, the grandmother
notified Hackett she could no longer care for the children.
The Department moved the children to their maternal
great-aunt's home in February 2016, and they were in her
care at the time of trial. Their great-aunt is not able to
adopt the children for personal reasons. The Department
explored other relative placements, including the
children's paternal grandfather and Mother's cousin.
Both relatives initially expressed willingness to care for
the children but then rescinded or stopped communicating with
the Department. As of the time of trial, the plan was for the
children to remain with their great-aunt until the end of the
school year, then be placed in foster care.
they were removed, Mother had not taken the children to the
pediatrician in at least six months. After they were removed,
all three children were consistently said to be healthy and
happy throughout the case. Four and a half years old at the time
of trial, the twins were in pre-kindergarten and performing
well. Luke had a heart murmur a cardiologist said posed no
concern and would disappear with age. Paige was being treated
for amblyopia (lazy eye). Luke was in speech therapy and was
responding well. No special needs were noted for two-year-old
the six months she had been incarcerated at the time of
trial, Mother took three concrete steps toward sobriety and
fulfilling her parental responsibilities.
she completed a 90-day program through the jail called
Mentoring Moms. She described it as a holistic program in
which participants work on their "mind, body, and
soul." The program includes education on relapse
prevention, coping, problem-solving, and reentry after the
participant is released from jail. Mother attended the
program five days a week for eight hours a day.
she attended Alcoholics Anonymous / Narcotics Anonymous
meetings weekly. More frequent meetings were not available.