Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
IN THE INTEREST OF V.A., S.A., S.A., A.A., AND I.A., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 84th District Court Ochiltree County, Texas
Trial Court No. 14, 272, Honorable Curt Brancheau, Presiding
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PARKER, JJ.
C. Parker Justice
a bench trial, the trial court signed a judgment terminating
the parent-child relationship between A.A. (Mother) and her
five children, V.A., S.A., S.A., A.A., and I.A. Raising five
issues, A.A. contends that the evidence was not legally or
factually sufficient to support termination of her parental
rights. We affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
trial court terminated A.A.'s and
S.A.'s parental rights on the grounds of
endangering conditions, endangerment, failure to comply with
court ordered services, and continued use of a controlled
substance after completion of a treatment program.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D),
(E), (O), and (P) (West Supp. 2017). The trial court also found
that termination was in the children's best interest.
See § 161.001(b)(2).
Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (Department)
initially became involved on October 2, 2015, when A.A.'s
fourth child, A.A., tested positive for methamphetamine at
birth. A.A. admitted to using methamphetamine approximately
twenty times leading up to the birth of A.A. Hair strand drug
tests of A.A. and S.A. confirmed the use of methamphetamine.
The Department referred the case to the Family Based Safety
Services Division (FBSS) to allow the parents to address
concerns that resulted from the investigation.
completed an Outreach, Screening, Assessment, and Referral
(OSAR) at the request of the Department. The assessment
recommended she complete inpatient drug treatment. A.A.
completed inpatient drug treatment on May 16, 2016. On
October 25, 2016, A.A. tested positive for methamphetamine.
The level of methamphetamine was "extremely" high
and "appeared to indicate daily use." A.A.
completed a second inpatient drug treatment on May 30, 2017,
but failed to submit to drug testing after that date as
requested by the Department.
and S.A.'s case was transferred to the Department's
conservatorship unit because of the lack of progress on
family-based services. The Department was named the temporary
managing conservator of the oldest four children on November
17, 2016, and of newborn I.A. one month later, after I.A.
tested positive for methamphetamine at birth.
Department developed a family service plan for A.A. and S.A.
A.A. did not complete services required by the plan.
Specifically, A.A. failed to: complete a psychological
evaluation; attend parenting classes; submit to random drug
testing; provide proof of attending Alcoholics/Narcotics
Anonymous classes; and obtain safe and stable housing or
children are placed with their maternal grandmother who plans
to adopt them. She has the support of two adult children in
the home and extended family. The children are doing well in
parent's rights to the "companionship, care,
custody[, ] and management" of a child is a
constitutional interest "far more precious than any
property right." Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S.
745, 758-59, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982); see
In re M.S., 115 S.W.3d 534, 547 (Tex. 2003).
Consequently, we strictly scrutinize termination proceedings
and strictly construe the involuntary termination statutes in
favor of the parent. Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18,
20 (Tex. 1985). However, "the rights of natural parents
are not absolute" and "[t]he rights of parenthood
are accorded only to those fit to accept the accompanying
responsibilities." In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355,
361 (Tex. 2003) (citing In re J.W.T., 872 S.W.2d
189, 195 (Tex. 1993)). Recognizing that a parent may forfeit
his or her parental rights by his or her acts or omissions,
the primary focus of a termination suit is protection of the
child's best interests. See id.
case to terminate parental rights by the Department under
section 161.001 of the Family Code, the Department must
establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) the
parent committed one or more of the enumerated acts or
omissions justifying termination, and (2) termination is in
the best interest of the child. § 161.001(b). Clear and
convincing evidence is "the measure or degree of proof
that 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." § 101.007 (West 2014);
In re J.F.C.,96 S.W.3d 256, 264 (Tex. 2002). Both
elements must be established and termination may not be based
solely on the best interest of the children as determined by
the trier of fact. Tex. Dep't of Human Servs. v.
Boyd, 727 S.W.2d 531, 533 (Tex. 1987); In re
K.C.B.,280 S.W.3d 888, 894 (Tex. App.- Amarillo 2009,
pet. denied). "Only one predicate finding under section
161.001[(b)](1) is necessary to support a judgment of
termination when there is also a finding that termination is
in the child's best interest." In re A.V.,
113 S.W.3d at 362. We will affirm the termination order ...