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In re T.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

April 16, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF T.C., A CHILD

          On Appeal from the 320th District Court Potter County, Texas Trial Court No. 090747-D-FM; Honorable Pamela C. Sirmon, Presiding

          Before QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Patrick A. Pirtle Justice

         Appellant, C.M., appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her son, T.C.[1] In presenting this appeal, appointed counsel has filed an Anders[2] brief in support of a motion to withdraw. We affirm.

         Background

         Based on a report that C.M. tested positive for methamphetamines, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services removed T.C. from his mother's care shortly after his birth. C.M. has a history with the Department and her other children dating back to the mid-1990s. During the entirety of the case, C.M. was not employed and did not have a safe and stable home for T.C.

         C.M. and the Department entered into a family service plan with a goal of family reunification. The caseworker testified that she reviewed the family service plan with C.M. and explained the services she needed to complete. C.M. acknowledged the requirements of the plan but did not complete her services. She offered lack of transportation or simply forgetting her appointments as excuses.[3]

         The Department's investigator testified that C.M. admitted to using methamphetamine one month before giving birth to T.C. She also testified that C.M.'s parental rights to numerous other children had been terminated due to C.M.'s drug use.[4]

         During cross-examination, the investigator testified that C.M. was not prepared to care for an infant and had considered giving T.C. up for adoption. None of her family members could pass a background check, and consequently, none of them were suitable to assist C.M. with a newborn.

         Regarding the best interest finding, the caseworker testified that T.C. was in a foster home that had adopted an older sibling of T.C. who was now an adult. T.C. was doing well in the foster home and the foster parents were prepared to adopt him should C.M.'s parental rights be terminated.

         During C.M.'s testimony, she offered excuses for being unable to complete her services. She did express her desire to take T.C. home with her after he was born and she had a car seat and clothes for him. However, he was removed from her at the hospital. C.M. testified she lived with her disabled mother and a cousin who had an open case with the Department at the time of T.C.'s birth. Shortly before the final hearing, she moved in with her boyfriend whom she had been dating for two and a half months.[5] C.M. admitted using methamphetamine one month before T.C.'s birth; however, testing at the time of birth showed them both to be drug-free.

         Following a hearing, the trial court found that termination of C.M.'s parental rights was in T.C.'s best interest and also found by clear and convincing evidence that C.M. (1) engaged in conduct which endangered the child's physical or emotional well-being, (2) had her parental rights terminated with respect to other children based on a finding that her conduct was in violation of section 161.001(b)(1)(D) or (E), and (3) failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the mother to obtain the return of her child who had been in the Department's custody for not less than nine months as a result of the child's removal under chapter 262 for abuse and neglect. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(E), (M), and (O) (West Supp. 2018).

         Applicable Law

         The Texas Family Code permits a court to terminate the parent-child relationship if the Department establishes one or more acts or omissions enumerated under section 161.001(b)(1) and termination of that relationship is in the child's best interest. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1), (2) (West Supp. 2018). See also Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 370 (Tex. 1976). The burden of proof is clear and convincing evidence. ยง 161.206(a-1) (West Supp. 2018). "'Clear and convincing evidence' means the measure or degree of proof that will produce ...


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