Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
THE 323RD DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
WALKER, MEIER, and GABRIEL, JJ.
an ultra-accelerated appeal in which Appellant T.T. (Mother)
appeals the termination of her parental rights to her son,
Dylan. In a single issue, Mother argues that the
evidence is insufficient to support the trial court's
best-interest finding. For the reasons set forth below, we
Factual and Procedural Background
to the termination trial regarding Dylan, Father gained legal
custody of his and Mother's three older children-David,
Alice, and Lily-due to Mother's drug use. The Texas
Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department)
removed Mother's youngest child, Dylan, from her
possession because he was born addicted to methamphetamine.
Mother failed to address her ongoing drug use and
mental-health issues, leading ultimately to the termination
of her parental rights to Dylan. Because Mother challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial
court's best-interest finding, we set forth a summary of
Mother's Arrest in Nevada and Removal of Older
Mother and Father were living in Nevada, Mother took Lily to
the store with her. Mother was arrested at the store for
being under the influence of drugs, and the sheriff brought
Lily to Father. Father left Mother in jail and moved to Texas
with David, Alice, and Lily.
after Father and the children arrived in Texas, CPS received
a referral from the children's babysitter alleging that
the children had unexplained bruises and marks on them.
Latrecia Woods, a night investigator with CPS, testified that
she spoke with Father who said that Mother had been arrested
somewhere in Nevada, that she had issues with drugs, and that
he did not have contact information for her. Woods learned
that Father and Mother had a pending CPS case in Nevada.
Woods removed the children and opened a CPS case on November
following day, Woods obtained Mother's contact
information and spoke with her. Mother said that she was in
Nevada and had served forty-five days in jail. Mother
explained her jail time by stating that she had gone to the
store to get milk, that Father had left her there, and that
she was crying and so emotional that the people at the store
called the police to report her. Mother told Woods that
Father had taken the children while she was in jail and that
she had been looking for them ever since she was released.
After Mother learned that a CPS case involving the three
children had been opened in Texas, she and Maternal
Grandmother moved to Texas from Nevada.
Mother's Service Plan
caseworker Sheila Roberson testified that her initial
concerns with Mother in November 2014 were her past CPS
history in Nevada, her drug use, and her positive hair strand
test. Roberson developed a service plan for Mother that
required her to complete a drug and alcohol assessment, an
assessment at MHMR, a psychiatric assessment, parenting
classes, individual counseling, and New Day Services
Motherhood Program; to attend visitation; to participate in
random drug testing; to refrain from criminal activity; and
to maintain contact with the Department. Roberson went over
the service plan with Mother, who appeared agreeable to
participating in the services. Mother went for the drug
assessment in December 2014 and the MHMR assessment in
January 2015. Mother did not, however, immediately start the
inpatient treatment recommended by her drug assessment.
Mother Gives Birth to Drug-Addicted Dylan
February 2015, Woods received a referral that Mother had
given birth to Dylan. The referral alleged neglectful
supervision and physical abuse of Dylan by Mother due to
using methamphetamine while pregnant, to failing to obtain
prenatal care, and to testing positive for amphetamines on a
urine drug screen at delivery. Woods testified that Dylan also
tested positive for amphetamine. Woods went over the concerns
of Mother's testing positive for amphetamines and
Dylan's exhibiting signs of drug withdrawals, and Mother
admitted that she had used methamphetamine while pregnant
with Dylan. Mother told Woods that she had last used
methamphetamine a week before she delivered, but Mother told
hospital staff that she had binged on methamphetamine for the
month prior to delivering Dylan. Although Mother told Woods
that the father of Dylan was "some random drug head in
Nevada, " paternity results revealed that Father was
Dylan's father. Woods concluded that Mother was
"reason to believe" for neglectful supervision of
Dylan; Woods ruled out the allegation of physical abuse of
Dylan by Mother.
Mother's Compliance with her Service Plan after
on the drug assessment, Mother went to inpatient treatment at
Pine Street in March 2015 but was unsuccessful. Mother stayed
at Pine Street only one week because they wanted her to go to
John Peter Smith Hospital for mental-health issues, and she
did not initially want to go to JPS. Mother ultimately went
to JPS in May 2015, and doctors there said that she needed
medication. Mother later told Roberson that she was so high
that she left JPS, flagged down a trucker, and went to
Midland to live with her boyfriend. Mother stayed in Midland
for the month of May and then returned to Fort Worth for a
hearing. Mother told Roberson during summer 2015 that she was
continuing to use methamphetamine and marijuana.
talked to Mother about engaging in services so that she could
get the help she needed to address her mental-health issues
and substance-abuse issues. Mother agreed to participate in
her services but did not follow up.
fall and winter of 2015, Mother lived with relatives and
friends; every time Roberson talked to Mother, she was living
someplace new. In December 2015, Mother told Roberson that
she was moving to California "to get herself
together" because she had more support there and would
work her services there. After Mother moved to California,
she never called Roberson and asked her to set up services in
California. Roberson heard from Mother shortly after the
beginning of 2016 but had not heard from her again until the
first day of the trial-July 19, 2016-when Mother texted to
find out what time the trial was scheduled.
the case during Roberson's contacts with Mother, Mother
continued to admit that she was still using methamphetamine.
In August 2016, which was after the trial had started in July
but before it was continued in September, Roberson asked
Mother to complete a drug test, and Mother did not go take
the test. Roberson ...