Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
THE 323RD DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
SUDDERTH, C.J.; WALKER and GABRIEL, JJ.
an ultra-accelerated appeal in which Appellant G.A.T.
(Mother) appeals the termination of her parental rights to
her child, G.A. following a bench trial. One witness
testified at the trial: Angelica Matthews, Mother's
Department of Family and Protective Services caseworker.
Mother raises three issues; the two dispositive issues that
we address in this appeal are whether the evidence is legally
and factually sufficient to support the trial court's
constructive abandonment and best-interest findings.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§§161.001(b)(1)(N), (b)(2) (West 2014 & Supp.
2017). Because the evidence is legally and factually
sufficient to support these findings, we will affirm the
trial court's judgment.
The Termination Trial
Testimony of Angelica Matthews
Department's conservatorship worker, Angelica Matthews,
testified that she was Mother's caseworker when Mother, a
minor, came into the Department's care in March or April
of 2016, and that Mother was pregnant at the time. Mother was
involved in prostitution prior to entering the
Department's care. Mother subsequently ran away from the
Department's care. Matthews testified that Mother has a
history and pattern of running away from the Department's
Matthews received a telephone call from the hospital,
informing her that Mother was in the hospital and had just
given birth to G.A. Matthews said that at this time the
Department took G.A. into care because the Department feared
that Mother would run away with G.A. Matthews was also the
caseworker assigned to G.A.'s case. At the hospital,
Matthews visited with Mother and discussed a plan to help
Mother provide a safe, stable home for G.A.
week and a half after G.A. was born, Matthews presented and
reviewed a service plan with Mother. The service plan called
for Mother to take parenting classes, attend counseling,
return to school, remain in the Department's care and not
run, maintain contact and a relationship with G.A., and
maintain contact with Matthews as the caseworker. Matthews
said the Department wanted Mother to do some counseling to
try to bridge some of the broken ties between Mother and her
family because Mother would need support from her family for
herself and G.A. to remain in care, go back to school, and
not run. Around this time, Mother admitted to Matthews that
to pay her rent, she had been prostituting herself.
Matthews testified that the plan went well for approximately
the first two weeks but then Mother ran away from care. The
Department located Mother at a paternal cousin's home and
placed her in a shelter, but Mother ran away a few hours
later. Ms. Matthews testified at the trial on July 17, 2017,
that she has not had face-to-face contact with Mother since
that date, which was in August 2016.
between August 30, 2016, and April 26, 2017, Ms. Matthews
contacted Mother via text messages, e-mails, and phone calls
and encouraged Mother to return to care so that she could see
G.A., Mother refused to return to care and did not see G.A.
during this approximately eight-month time period. Ms.
Matthews testified that she attempted to locate Mother, and
was concerned that Mother was not in a safe environment.
to Ms. Matthews, she had witnessed no bond between Mother and
G.A., Mother had demonstrated an inability to provide a
stable, safe living environment for G.A., and Mother had a
lifestyle that would ultimately expose G.A. to dangerous
Matthews further testified that G.A.'s foster parents had
developed a bond with G.A.; that they were able to meet
G.A.'s emotional, physical, educational, medical, and
financial needs; and that they made sure G.A. went to all of
her medical appointments.
Matthews testified that it was in the G.A.'s best
interests for the parental rights of Mother and the unknown
father to be terminated.
Report from Attorney Ad Litem for G.A.
attorney ad litem for G.A. offered her report as a trial
exhibit. The report detailed the ad litem's meetings with
G.A. and the foster parents. The report stated that G.A.
thrived in the foster home, was sleeping better, trying solid
foods, pulling herself up, and attempting to take steps and
say words. The report noted that the foster parents
demonstrated that G.A.'s care and well-being is their
priority, and that G.A. is attached to the foster parents and
the foster parents are attached to G.A. The report concluded
that it is in G.A.'s best interest to have Mother's
parental rights terminated and to allow the foster parents to
be permitted to pursue adoption.
No Documentary Evidence or Testimony from Mother
presented no documentary evidence or testimony at the trial.