Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF C.K., N.K., B.K., R.K., N.K., Children
the 131st Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2015-PA-01077 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Rebeca C.
Martinez, Justice Irene Rios, Justice
C. Martinez, Justice
mother of C.K., N.K., B.K., R.K., and N.K. appeals the trial
court's order terminating her parental
rights. Mother contends the evidence
is insufficient to support the trial court's finding that
she failed to comply with the provisions of her family
service plan and that termination is in the children's
best interest. We affirm the trial court's order.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed its
petition in the underlying cause to terminate Mother's
parental rights on May 26, 2015. A bench trial was held on
November 14, 2016.
did not appear at trial. Her attorney stated he had made
efforts "over the last week to track her down, "
but "[h]er whereabouts are unknown at this time."
Because Mother was not present, her attorney announced not
ready. The Department's attorney stated Mother had been
involved in the case, had shown up to hearings, and had
engaged in services. Because Mother was "well
aware" of the case, the Department urged the trial court
to deny the not ready announcement. The trial court overruled
the not ready announcement.
Department's legal worker testified she had been the
legal worker on the case since its inception. The children
were removed from their parent's care on May 26, 2015
after R.K., who was four, was hit by a car when she was left
unsupervised in a parking lot. The accident left R.K.
paralyzed. At that time, Mother and father were living in
different units at an apartment complex, and the children
would wander back and forth between the units. On the day
R.K. was hit, she was visiting the father. The legal worker
testified the case changed from family to legal when N.K.,
who was one at the time, was left outside unsupervised by
Mother. At the time of trial, C.K. was seventeen, N.K. was
twelve, B.K. was eight, R.K. was six, and N.K. was three.
legal worker testified a service plan was prepared for
Mother. Because Mother spoke Nepali, the Department had an
interpreter present when the Department explained the service
plan to her, and Mother was able to ask questions. The legal
worker testified Mother demonstrated she understood the
services she was required to complete because she asked a lot
of questions, including questions about the location of the
services, the length of time the services would take, and
whether her children would be present. Mother also
demonstrated she understood the services by engaging in
services which the Department set up to "go to
her." An interpreter was present during the services in
which Mother engaged. Although the service plan itself was
written in English, the legal worker testified Mother was
given the phone number and name of Catholic Charities in
Nepali to arrange the services.
legal worker testified Mother did not complete the service
plan. Although Mother would start services, she was
unsuccessfully discharged from the services she started for
two reasons. First, Mother was engaged in a relationship with
someone who assaulted her. Second, Mother was evicted from
two different residences. The legal worker testified Mother
still did not have a stable home. The legal worker last spoke
with Mother in September of 2016, and Mother told her she was
living with a friend while working and saving money to get
her own place.
legal worker testified she communicated with Mother in court
through a translator. During the year the case was pending,
the legal worker and Mother learned to communicate with each
other during their visits, but an interpreter was present
when the legal worker believed one to be necessary. The legal
worker testified Mother knew some English.
regard to visitation, Mother was allowed two visits each
month for one hour. At the beginning of the case,
Mother's visits were regular and consistent when the
visits were in her home, but Mother had not had a visit since
March of 2016. The legal worker explained that when the
visits were moved to the Department because Mother did not
have a residence, Mother "was a no-show to a few."
The visits were then moved to a restaurant, and Mother
"just didn't show up for them." When Mother did
not show up for the visits, the children were fearful of what
was happening to her. Although the children sometimes
expressed a desire to see their mother, the legal worker
testified the children were very confused.
legal worker testified that the Department had a concern with
Mother's alcohol abuse. Mother admitted she drank alcohol
but denied being an alcoholic.
legal worker stated she did not believe Mother could care for
the children. She testified Mother is unstable and does not
have a place to live. Although Mother is working, she is not
financially stable, and she continued to be in a relationship
with a man who abused her over and over. Mother refused
efforts to place her at the battered women's shelter. ...