Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 438th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016PA00044 Honorable Karen A. Crouch, Judge
Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice, Patricia O. Alvarez,
Justice, Irene Rios, Justice.
parental rights of mother A.R-J.P. and father L.J.S-G, Jr.
were terminated as to their three children N.R.G., F.R.G.,
and N.E-R.G. Father appeals the trial court's findings on
two statutory grounds relating to the termination of his
parental rights to F.R.G. Mother appeals the trial
court's finding that termination was in the best interest
of the children. We affirm the trial court's order.
January 5, 2016, Jeanette Salazar, an investigator for the
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, received
a referral based on observations that F.R.G. was emaciated
with her rib cage showing. In addition, concerns were
expressed about the children being dirty and possible drug
use by the parents. At that time, N.R.G. was two, F.R.G was
one, and N.E-R.G. was about one week old.
testified when she visited the home to investigate the
referral, she observed F.R.G. when her mother undressed her.
Salazar stated F.R.G.'s rib cage was showing, her skin
under her arms and her butt area was sagging, she could not
roll over, she appeared sick, and she could not respond to
any social cues. Ten photographs of F.R.G. depicting her
emaciated condition were introduced into evidence. Salazar
contacted emergency medical services and had F.R.G.
transported to the hospital.
further testified N.R.G's. hands and feet were dirty, and
he was eating cereal from a bag. N.R.G. was not crawling,
walking, or speaking. Because N.R.G. and F.R.G. appeared
neglected, Salazar was concerned N.E-R.G. was also neglected.
time the children were removed, the mother and father were
unable to provide an explanation to Salazar regarding the
children's conditions. At a subsequent visit at the
children's shelter, the mother, who was eighteen,
admitted to Salazar that she was being lazy because of her
pregnancy. The mother also told Salazar the father, who was
nineteen, was working but would try to help when he was home.
Salazar subsequently learned the father was not working. Both
the mother and the father were indicted for injury to a child
based on F.R.G.'s condition, and the mother and father
admitted using marijuana.
F.R.G.'s removal, she began gaining weight. Salazar
testified the children were developmentally delayed at the
time of the removal, which the parents also were unable to
explain. The mother and father had never sought any medical
attention for F.R.G. or even routine medical care for
Buckley, a pediatric nurse, testified she has evaluated over
a thousand children based on allegations of neglect and
abuse. Buckley specializes in children who have been
neglected and are failing to thrive. Buckley testified F.R.G.
was failing to thrive because she was unable to eat and was
deprived of proper nutrients. F.R.G was not diagnosed with
any medical condition that would cause her emaciated
condition. Upon being provided with an appropriate caloric
intake, F.R.G. immediately began to improve in the hospital.
In the eight days F.R.G. was hospitalized, she gained two
F.R.G. was discharged from the hospital, Buckley continued to
follow her progress from February to September. During that time, Buckley testified F.R.G.
progressed to crawling and pulling to stand. Previously,
F.R.G. could not crawl or get into a sitting position. When
F.R.G. was admitted to the hospital, she was thirteen months
old; however, Buckley testified F.R.G. was the average weight
of a three-month-old baby, and her development level was that
of a five-month-old baby. Within two months, F.R.G. caught up
testified the mother and father were unable to explain
F.R.G.'s condition. Although she should have been on
formula until she was twelve months old, the parents started
feeding F.R.G. milk at eight months because they ran out of
formula. The parents told Buckley they tried to also feed
F.R.G. ground meat and chicken; however, she would refuse to
eat. Buckley testified F.R.G. demonstrated no refusal to eat
in the hospital or in the foster home. Buckley stated a
reasonable parent would have sought medical attention for
F.R.G., and F.R.G.'s medical records showed she had not
been to a doctor since she was six months old. Buckley
testified F.R.G.'s sagging skin was a sign she had lost
weight which the parents should have noticed. In
Buckley's opinion, both parents physically and medically
also monitored N.R.G. because he was placed in the same
foster home. Buckley testified N.R.G. has more ongoing
problems that took longer to treat. When N.R.G. was initially
placed at the children's shelter, he could not walk and
kept one leg bent when he crawled. He also was not eating
well and preferred to drink from a bottle. N.R.G. was deaf in
his right ear and was fitted with a device to assist him in
hearing. At the time Buckley evaluated N.R.G., he was almost
two; however, his development level was that of a nine or
ten-month-old. During the period Buckley monitored N.R.G.