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In re J. M.

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

June 26, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF J. M. AND J.M.

          On Appeal from the 311th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case Nos. 2008-17643 & 2016-88434

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Jennings and Lloyd.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Sherry Radack Chief Justice.

         In these two appeals, G.M. ("Mother") challenges the final judgments terminating the parent-child relationship between her and her two children, J.M. and J.M.[1] In her single issue on appeal, Mother challenges the factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's findings that termination of the parental-child relationship is in the children's best interest. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         The First Case

         These cases involve two brothers, John and James, who were nine and five years old, respectively, at the time of trial. When Mother gave birth to John in 2008, both she and John tested positive for PCP. Mother successfully participated in Family Based Safety Services provided by the Department of Family & Protective Services ("the Department").

         The Second Case

         When James was born in 2012, both Mother and James tested positive for PCP, and the doctor reported Mother to the Department. The Department initiated a second case based on neglectful supervision. Mother acknowledged that she took PCP while she was in labor with James. She explained that she had already had the drugs and that she used them to take away the pain. She denied using PCP on a regular basis, but admitted that she had used it "about three times" during her pregnancy, and then again while she was in labor. This second investigation turned up a significant criminal history going back to 2000, and included arrests and convictions for resisting arrest and assault, twice for theft, terroristic threat, and driving without a license, harassment, and possession of a controlled substance, criminal mischief, driving with an invalid license, assault causing bodily injury, violation of a protective order, assaulting a family member, and interfering with an emergency call.

         While the case was proceeding, Mother agreed to move out of her parents' home, where she was living with the children, and to allow the children to be cared for by her parents. Soon thereafter, the grandmother called the Department and stated that she could no longer care for the children because she was suffering from cancer. As a result, the Department sought and obtained temporary managing conservatorship of the children, and they were placed in foster care.

         Mother successfully completed the necessary steps for regaining custody of the children, and the Department returned them to her in July 2014.

         The Third Case

         In August 2014, just two months after regaining custody of the children, the Department received another report of neglectful supervision. According to the report, Mother was in the Harris County Jail after being charged with criminal trespass, but she was transferred to the Harris County Psychiatric Center "due to her PCP use." At the time of the transfer, Mother was "erratic, delusional, aggressive, and agitated," and admitted that she had just regained custody of her children from the Department. The psychiatric center informed the Department that Mother was "detoxing from PCP and there was [sic] concerns since she had just gotten her children back in her care." Her father told the Department that Mother "was not acting like normal," and a neighbor who had been helping care for the children said that she had not seen Mother in two weeks. The Department interviewed Mother and she admitted that she had "relapsed on PCP."

         The Department again sought and temporary managing conservatorship of the children, and the children were returned to foster care. Again, Mother successfully completed the necessary steps for regaining custody of the children, and they were returned to her in November 2016.

         The Fourth Case

         On December 22, 2016, just over a month after regaining custody of the children, the Department received another report that Mother was again using drugs. The report alleged that Mother was using PCP and/or embalming fluid daily and that she "takes the children with her to the McNair area where she buys drugs." Her father reported that Mother left her own cancer-stricken mother alone in the home so that she could use drugs.

         On December 29, 2016, the Department filed its petitions seeking termination of the parent-child relationship between Mother and John and James. That same date, the Department took emergency possession of the children. Drug testing reports placed in evidence at that time show that mother tested positive for PCP and marihuana metabolite, TCH, on that date, and again tested positive for PCP on December 30, 2016.

         The trial court held an Adversary Hearing on January 11, 2017, after which it again placed the Department in temporary possession of the children. Drug test reports on that date again show that Mother tested positive for PCP and marihuana metabolite, THC.

         Mother was given a family service plan, which required her to: (1) refrain from participating in any criminal or illegal activity, (2) undergo a psychological evaluation, (3) maintain stable employment, (4) maintain stable housing, (5) submit to random drug testing with the provision that "a no show will be taken as a positive drug test," (6) undergo a substance abuse assessment and follow all recommendations made by the counselor, (7) participate in services described in the family plan, (8) obtain a sponsor with 10 years' sobriety and perform work assigned by the sponsor, (9) ...


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