Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF A.N.L., I.N.L., A.F.J.L., W.Q.C. Jr., J. N.C., and E.D.G.C., Children
the 438th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-00153 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Rebeca C.
Martinez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice
Elena D. Chapa, Justice.
appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental
rights to her six children, A.N.L., I.N.L., A.F.J.L., W.Q.C.
Jr., J. N.C., and E.D.G.C. L.J.L. presents three issues
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support the
trial court's two predicate statutory findings and its
finding that termination is in the best interest of the
children. We affirm the trial court's order.
January 22, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services filed a petition to terminate
L.J.L.'s parental rights to A.N.L., I.N.L., A.F.J.L.,
W.Q.C. Jr., J. N.C., and E.D.G.C. On the date the petition
was filed, the children were eleven, six, five, two, sixteen
months, and four months. A bench trial was held over a period
of three days on July 7, 2017, September 20, 2017, and
October 11, 2017.
the lead parent educator for iParent SA, testified that
iParent SA works with the Department in teaching a two-year
parenting class which covers concepts like discipline and
nurturing of children and protective parenting. C.T.
testified L.J.L. had attended the class for approximately a
year and half and would complete the curriculum in March
2018; however, upon completion of the class, L.J.L. had
expressed an interest in participating in other services
iParent SA had available. C.T. believed L.J.L. had a
"pretty good grasp of nurturing parenting skills"
and had grown in her attitude. C.T. also believed L.J.L. was
ready to have her children back "with the proper
cross-examination, C.T. acknowledged L.J.L. was romantically
involved with W.C., Sr., the father of the three youngest
children. C.T. also acknowledged W.C., Sr. had refused to
engage in any services or cooperate with the Department's
investigation. From her conversations with L.J.L., C.T.
believed L.J.L. would be willing to break off the
relationship with W.C., Sr. if necessary to have the children
returned to her. Although L.J.L. was romantically involved
with W.C., Sr., C.T. did not believe W.C., Sr. was living
with L.J.L. because he was not at L.J.L.'s residence when
C.T. visited and none of his personal items were at the
re-direct examination, C.T. testified L.J.L. understood the
need to stay away from abusive figures but L.J.L. had not
recognized W.C., Sr. as an abusive person. L.J.L. however
recognized her stepfather as an abusive person and understood
she needed to keep the children away from him.
Bradley, the Department's caseworker assigned to the case
since March 2017, testified his main concern was L.J.L.'s
relationship with W.C., Sr., who had been observed providing
L.J.L. with transportation for visits with her children.
Bradley described L.J.L.'s oldest daughter, I.N.L., as
being "terrified" of W.C., Sr., who would punish
I.N.L. for wetting the bed by flicking her in the forehead
and hitting her in the stomach backhanded. W.C., Sr. refused
to engage in services, including refusing to submit to drug
testing. Bradley believed L.J.L. was financially dependent on
W.C., Sr. who had a history of drug use and a criminal
history, including arrests for assault and possession of
marijuana. Bradley identified photographs from L.J.L.'s
Facebook account which were admitted into evidence showing
L.J.L. continued to have a romantic relationship with W.C.,
Sr. Although L.J.L. completed all of her service plan tasks,
Bradley did not believe she completed its targeted goals
because her ongoing relationship with W.C., Sr. showed she
would not be protective of the children.
told Bradley that her stepfather, who raped her when she was
thirteen and on multiple other occasions, was the father of
her oldest child. Nevertheless, L.J.L. and the children were
living with L.J.L.'s mother and stepfather when the
children were removed, and L.J.L. allowed her stepfather to
have unsupervised access to the children. L.J.L. also
reported that her stepfather had anger problems and would
treat her and the children inappropriately when he was angry.
time of trial, A.N.L. was placed in a residential treatment
center because of his special needs, and the younger children
were placed in foster-to-adopt homes. A.N.L. has issues with
insomnia and anger and takes medication and receives therapy
to assist him. Bradley believed it was in A.N.L.'s best
interest to stay at the residential treatment center where
his special needs were being addressed. A.F.J.L., W.Q.C.,
Jr., and J. N.C. were placed in the same foster home, and
Bradley had noticed great improvements in their development
and school work. The foster mom has been assisting A.F.J.L.
with his dyslexia, and the children are bonded with their
foster parents. I.N.L.'s self-esteem and attitude
improved, and she is very happy. When I.N.L. was placed in
foster care, she was in special education and is currently
making all A's. Finally, E.D.G.C. is very bonded with her
foster parents and is developing at a great pace. All of the
foster parents were committed to adopting the children.
admitted the children are bonded to L.J.L., but the older
children have stated they do not want to be returned to their
mother. Although the children are engaged with L.J.L. during
visits, they are not sad when the visits end.
Mendiola, the Department's caseworker from the
children's removal until January of 2017, testified W.C.,
Sr. refused to engage in services but continued to have a
relationship with L.J.L., including assisting her
financially. Although W.C., Sr. transported L.J.L. to her
visits with the children, W.C., Sr. refused to take the
actions necessary for him to visit with the children.
Mendiola expressed her concerns to L.J.L. about L.J.L.'s
ongoing relationship with W.C., Sr. given his criminal
history and ...