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In re R.P.R.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

March 1, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF R.P.R., JR., A CHILD

         On Appeal from the 314th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2016-04660J

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Busby and Wise.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KEM THOMPSON FROST CHIEF JUSTICE.

         C.M.H. (Mother) and R.J.R. (Father) each appeal from a final decree terminating their parental rights to their son, R.P.R., Jr. (Richard).[1] In a single issue, Mother contends the unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of her parental rights did not comply with section 161.103 of the Texas Family Code. Father's appointed counsel filed a brief in which he concludes Father's appeal is wholly frivolous and without merit. We affirm.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2015, the Department of Family and Protective Services received referrals alleging Mother and Father were physically neglecting and neglectfully supervising Richard, who then was four months old. According to the report, Richard had a staph infection due to unsanitary conditions in the home and Mother and Father were using illegal drugs while caring for him.

         The Department became involved because Mother reportedly was leaving not-yet-one-year-old Richard alone with Father while she was on a "drug binge." According to reports, the home was in a deplorable condition and the Department had concerns of domestic violence between Mother and Father. Mother agreed to participate in services with Family Based Safety Services (FBSS).

         While participating in services with FBSS, the Department placed Richard in a Parental Child Safety Placement with his paternal grandmother. Mother and Father disrupted the placement and took Richard from the grandmother's home. Mother and Father grew uncooperative. Father, who believed Mother had lied about the paternity of her unborn child, later fled with Richard.

         The Department received a referral on August 11, 2016, alleging Mother's neglectful supervision of B.H. (Bonnie), a newborn. Mother tested positive for benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and opiates the day Bonnie was born. Bonnie also tested positive for amphetamines and opiates and displayed withdrawal symptoms shortly after her birth. On August 18, 2016, Bonnie was discharged into a Parental Child Safety Placement with Mother's friend.

         The next day, the Department received a referral alleging Father's neglectful supervision of Richard. According to the report, Father had been arrested for a bond violation after being found with a gun in his vehicle and testing positive for amphetamines. Father was incarcerated as a result.

         The same day (August 19, 2016), Mother's friend who was caring for Bonnie called the Department and indicated that Mother had attempted to pick up Bonnie and was threatening the friend. Mother's friend no longer wanted to serve as a placement for Bonnie and the Department proceeded with emergency removal of both Richard and Bonnie due to Mother's history of taking the children from safe placements and evading the Department.

         Trial Court Proceedings

         Within a few days, the Department filed its petition for termination in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, seeking to cut off Mother's and Father's parental rights to Richard and Bonnie. The court appointed the Department temporary sole managing conservator of both children. [2]

         During the bench trial that followed, both Mother and Father offered, and the trial court admitted into evidence, irrevocable affidavits of voluntary relinquishment as to Richard. When offering the affidavits into evidence, both Mother's and Father's counsel indicated Mother and ...


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