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In re E.J.E.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

August 2, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF E.J.E., J.J.E., J.N.E., and L.A.E., Children

         From the 166th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA00935 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice Marialyn Barnard, Justice Irene Rios, Justice.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Irene Rios, Justice.

         A.E., the mother of J.J.E., J.N.E., and L.A.E., appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental rights.[1] A.E. contends the evidence is insufficient to support's the trial court's finding that termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of the children. We affirm the trial court's order.

         Background

         The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed its original petition to terminate A.E.'s parental rights on May 3, 2016. A bench trial on the merits was held on February 16, 2017. At that time, J.J.E. was fifteen, J.N.E. was thirteen, and L.A.E. was eight.

         Pamela Grover, the Department's investigator, was the first witness to testify. She stated the initial referral was for a dirty house and suspected drug use. Upon arriving outside the home, Grover smelled a strong odor of feces. Upon entering the home, Grover observed trash, dirty diapers, and used feminine hygiene products on the floor scattered throughout the home. The home had no running water. The bathroom had a bucket containing feces, and Grover also observed feces smeared on the door. When Grover performed a drug test on the parents, J.E., the children's father, testified positive for marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, and cocaine. A.E.'s drug test was also positive for opiates. Both J.E. and A.E. denied any drug use.

         The Department implemented a parental child safety placement and placed the children with their paternal grandparents. On a random visit, however, the grandmother stated the children were with the parents despite the grandmother acknowledging her understanding that visits were supposed to be supervised. The children were then removed and placed in the Department's care.

         Grover determined the children had not attended school in almost a year. Grover further testified the children's medical needs were not being met, and the parents did not have some of the children's prescribed medications. J.J.E. was diagnosed with diabetes, but the parents admitted they only gave her the prescribed medication occasionally, not regularly. While the children were in the Department's care, Grover discovered the children had additional medical needs that were not being addressed.

         Jennifer Saldana, the Department's caseworker, testified both parents were given a service plan. A.E. was first required to undertake a drug assessment. When Saldana met A.E. at the drug testing facility, A.E. was inebriated and unable to stand. The facility attempted an oral swab test, but the results were invalid. Based on A.E.'s demeanor, the facility was unable to complete the test. A.E. completed a psychological assessment and was referred to counseling; however, she only attended one counseling session because her health deteriorated after she skipped her dialysis treatments. After A.E.'s health improved and she obtained stable housing in November, she was provided in-home counseling and began to engage in therapy in December. Unlike the prior housing, Saldana stated she did not have any concerns about the housing A.E. had lived in since November.

         On one occasion when Saldana went to pick A.E. up to transport her for a hair follicle drug test, A.E. was barely able to walk to the vehicle because she skipped her dialysis treatments for the entire week. A.E. passed out in Saldana's vehicle, and Saldana called 911. Saldana attempted to revive A.E. until EMS arrived and transported A.E. to the hospital. Saldana testified the dialysis treatment facility provided A.E. with transportation for services. A.E. simply chose not to go to the facility to receive treatments.

         Saldana testified A.E. was arrested on a warrant while the case was pending. Saldana further testified J.E. has outstanding warrants. With regard to A.E.'s relationship with J.E., Saldana testified A.E. represented they were no longer in a relationship; however, when Saldana visited the home, J.E. was present. In addition, on the last parent-child visit preceding trial, A.E. requested that the children be permitted to attend a ceremony on Valentine's Day where she and J.E. would renew their vows. Saldana testified a history of domestic violence exists between A.E. and J.E., including an incident at the beginning of the case when J.E. admittedly hit A.E. causing bruising under her chin. Neither A.E. nor J.E. completed a domestic violence course.

         J.E. completed two drug assessments but failed to follow through with recommendations for treatment. The Friday before trial began, Saldana made an unannounced home visit at A.E.'s residence. J.E. informed Saldana that A.E. was not home because she was hospitalized the previous night for skipping dialysis. Saldana testified A.E. had been hospitalized four times while the case was pending. J.E. submitted to an oral swab drug test and passed out waiting for the results. The drug test was positive for cocaine.

         Saldana testified J.J.E. is diabetic and requires regular medication. J.N.E. also had several medical concerns when he was placed in the Department's care, including high blood pressure for which he takes medication. Saldana expressed a concern about A.E.'s ability to follow through with the children's medical care when she does not attend to her own medical care. When E.J.E. was placed in the Department's care, she was still bedwetting despite being sixteen. Within a month of an appointment with a urologist and bladder training, E.J.E. was able to stop bedwetting. While in her parent's ...


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