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In re S.E.S.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

May 30, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF S.E.S., a Child

          From the 150th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA02682 Honorable Richard Garcia, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Marialyn Barnard, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Marialyn Barnard, Justice

         This is an appeal from a trial court's order terminating appellant mother's ("Mother") parental rights to her child, S.E.S.[1] On appeal, Mother does not challenge the grounds for termination; rather, Mother merely contends the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the trial court's finding that termination was in the child's best interest. We affirm the order of termination.

         Background

         The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("the Department") received a referral regarding S.E.S. just after her birth on November 26, 2016. The referral reported that

          Mother had engaged in neglectful supervision and physical abuse based on the fact that S.E.S. tested positive at birth for amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, and marijuana. Mother also tested positive for amphetamines and marijuana at the time of S.E.S.'s birth. Mother claimed Father forced her to take "Ice" and Xanax to force her into labor at home; he did not want Mother to leave the house. However, it is undisputed Mother gave birth in the hospital.

         Six days after S.E.S.'s birth, the Department removed the infant from the hospital and placed her with her foster parents. S.E.S. has been with those same foster parents since the initial placement. Subsequently, the Department filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights to S.E.S. Almost a year to the day after the child's birth, the matter moved to a final hearing.

         At the hearing, the trial court heard testimony from (1) Monica Camacho, the Department caseworker who worked with Mother throughout the course of the case; and (2) Mother. Ms. Camacho testified about the child's birth and the withdrawal symptoms she suffered thereafter. She advised the trial court that Mother was arrested a week after she gave birth to S.E.S. for an aggravated robbery committed by Mother just five days after the birth. Mother was later convicted of the aggravated robbery and sentenced to six-years' confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division ("TDCJ"). Earlier that same year, Mother had been arrested for "assault bodily injury-married/cohab." That offense involved a domestic violence incident with a man with whom Mother had an intimate relationship.

         As for her service plan, which took into account Mother's prior history with the Department and her criminal history, Mother completed all the services available to her in the Bexar County Jail prior to her transfer to TDCJ. She was unable to complete certain services - drug tests, psychiatric evaluation, drug assessment, visitation - due to her incarceration and the unavailability of the services in the jail. However, Ms. Camacho testified that even though Mother completed numerous services, she failed to successfully address the reasons for the initial removal, continuing to blame Father for her situation.

         The Department also presented evidence of prior parental terminations. Without objection, the trial court admitted into evidence a 2013 order of termination. In that order, Mother's parental rights to three other children - ages thirteen, twelve, and six at the time - were terminated.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court terminated Mother's parental rights, finding she: (1) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed S.E.S. to remain in conditions or surroundings that endangered her physical or emotional well-being; (2) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed S.E.S. with people who engaged in conduct that endangered her physical or emotional well-being; (3) had her parental rights terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that her conduct violated sections 161.001(b)(1)(D) or (E) of the Code; (4) constructively abandoned S.E.S.; (5) knowing engaged in criminal conduct that resulted in her conviction of an offense and confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for S.E.S. for not less than two years from the date the petition was filed; and (6) was the cause of S.E.S. being born addicted to a controlled substance, other than one legally obtained by prescription. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1) (D), (E), (M), (N), (Q), (R) (West Supp. 2017). The trial court further found termination of Mother's parental rights would be in S.E.S.'s best interest. See id. § 161.001(b)(2). Based on its findings, the trial court rendered an order terminating Mother's parental rights. Thereafter, Mother timely perfected this appeal.

         Analysis

         As noted above, in this appeal Mother does not challenge the evidence regarding the trial court's findings under section 161.001(b)(1) of the Texas Family Code ("the Code"). See id. ยง 161.001(b)(1) (D), (E), (M), (N), (Q), (R). Mother argues only that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the trial court's finding ...


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