Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
THE 158TH DISTRICT COURT OF DENTON COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
LIVINGSTON, C.J.; WALKER and KERR, JJ.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
ELIZABETH KERR JUSTICE
jury trial, the trial court terminated the parental rights of
A.G. to her daughter Z.O. The jury found that (1) A.G. had
knowingly placed or knowingly allowed Z.O. to remain in
conditions or surroundings that endangered Z.O.'s
physical or emotional well-being (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)(D) (West Supp. 2016)); (2) A.G. had engaged in
conduct, or knowingly placed Z.O. with persons who engaged in
conduct, that endangered Z.O.'s physical or emotional
well-being (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(E)); and
(3) terminating the parent-child relationship between A.G.
and Z.O. was in Z.O.'s best interest (Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 161.001(b)(2)). On appeal, A.G. attacks the legal and
factual evidentiary sufficiency on each of those three
findings. We affirm.
stated reasons of escaping domestic violence and police
brutality, A.G. left Illinois in August 2015 with two of her
three daughters,  one of whom was Z.O., to start a new life
in Texas. She left for Texas having no job and no plan other
than to move in with her father, a man with whom she
acknowledged not having a close relationship.
December 2015, A.G.'s father had kicked them all out of
his house, and A.G. and her daughters were homeless. So A.G.
affirmatively sought the aid of the Texas Department of
Family and Protective Services, which initially offered A.G.
services that would have permitted her and her daughters to
remain together or would have allowed her daughters to remain
with family. But within a week, A.G. opted to place her
children in foster care.
compliance with A.G.'s wishes, the Department placed the
two girls in foster care. Although the youngest
daughter's father later took her back to Illinois,
Z.O.'s father declined any involvement in the case,
leaving Z.O. in foster care.There, it quickly became evident
that Z.O. had severe behavioral issues. Placements in a
basic-needs foster home, a moderate-needs foster home, and a
specialized-needs foster home all failed.
trial court ordered services, and A.G. engaged in them and
found rent-free housing at the Wheeler House. In October
2016, the trial court placed Z.O. back with A.G in a
monitored return. Yet within five weeks, A.G. went to the
Department's offices and again asked the Department to
put Z.O. into foster care.
Z.O. was back in foster care, the Department proceeded to a
jury trial to terminate A.G.'s parental rights. At trial,
it was undisputed that A.G. and Z.O were very much mutually
bonded. On the fifth day of trial, the jury nevertheless
rendered a verdict terminating their parent-child
absent from the evidence were any alcohol abuse, drug abuse,
physical abuse, sexual molestation, or neglect; the State
proceeded on emotional abuse and on Z.O.'s overall best
interest. Although the evidence lacked the more easily
recognized forms of emotional abuse such as intentional
cruelty or vindictiveness, the evidence did show that the
abuse was the byproduct of the manner in which A.G.
functioned as a person and as a parent.
psychological evaluation, A.G. was diagnosed as having severe
depression, dependent personality features, and narcissistic
personality features. The clinical psychologist testified
that depression drains a person of energy and motivation,
making it hard to function. A "dependency"
diagnosis meant that the person felt incapable of taking care
of herself and her responsibilities and needed someone else
to take care of her and assume her responsibilities.
"Narcissism" meant the person was self-centered,
lacked empathy for others, and could become enraged when
encountering criticism or disagreement.
with those diagnoses, concerns with A.G.'s anger and her
ability to control it surfaced. In 2012, Illinois CPS had
investigated A.G. for over-disciplining her oldest child by
spanking her. When she herself was a child, A.G. was forced
to leave a foster home after she beat up her foster mother.
Within the two years preceding trial, A.G. acknowledged
getting in a fight with one of her cousins and getting fired
after beating up a co-worker. Adding to the concern was that
A.G. thought spanking was the only way to "get through
clinical psychologist described A.G. as using poor judgment.
All through A.G.'s adult life, unemployment and housing
instability were constant companions. Years earlier, in 2005
in Illinois, A.G. had sought CPS's help to care for her
child (at the time she had only one) while she established
stability. In December 2015, A.G. was still seeking
stability, but by that year she had two additional children.
termination case, the State seeks not just to limit parental
rights but to erase them permanently-to divest the parent and
child of all legal rights, privileges, duties, and powers
normally existing between them, except the child's right
to inherit. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.206(b) (West
2014); Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex.
1985). Consequently, "[w]hen the State seeks to sever
permanently the relationship between a parent and a child, it
must first observe fundamentally fair procedures."
In re E.R., 385 S.W.3d 552, 554 (Tex. 2012) (citing
Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 747-48, 102 S.Ct.
1388, 1391- 92 (1982)). We strictly scrutinize termination
proceedings and strictly construe involuntary-termination
statutes in the parent's favor. In re E. N.C. ,
384 S.W.3d 796, 802 (Tex. 2012); E.R., 385 S.W.3d at
563; Holick, 685 S.W.2d at 20-21.
decisions must be supported by clear and convincing evidence.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b), §
161.206(a); E. N.C. , 384 S.W.3d at 802. Due process
demands this heightened standard because "[a] parental
rights termination proceeding encumbers a value 'far more
precious than any property right.'" E.R.,
385 S.W.3d at 555 (quoting Santosky, 455 U.S. at
758-59, 102 S.Ct. at 1397); In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d
256, 263 (Tex. 2002); see also E. N.C. , 384 S.W.3d
at 802. Evidence is clear and convincing if it "will
produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or
conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be
established." Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 101.007 (West
2014); E. N.C. , 384 S.W.3d at 802.
trial court to terminate a parent-child relationship, the
party seeking termination must establish, by clear and
convincing evidence, that the parent's actions satisfy
just one of the many grounds listed in family code section
161.001(b)(1) and also that termination is in the child's
best interest under section 161.001(b)(2). Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 161.001(b); E. N.C. , 384 S.W.3d at 803;
In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d 79, 84 (Tex. 2005). Both
elements must be established; that is, termination may not be
based solely on the child's best interest as determined
by the ...