Appeal from the 309th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2017-29993
consists of Justices Christopher, Bourliot, and Zimmerer.
accelerated appeal arises from a final decree in a suit in
which termination of the parent-child relationship was at
issue. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 109.002(a-1).
The child is Josh. The parents are D.W. (Mother) and J.F.
(Father).The trial court terminated both
parents' parental rights and appointed the Texas
Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department)
to be Josh's managing conservator. Only Mother appeals.
appeal, Mother challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
support termination. We conclude legally and factually
sufficient evidence supports the trial court's findings
that (1) Mother had a parent-child relationship terminated
with respect to another child based on a finding that
Mother's conduct endangered that child; and (2)
termination of Mother's parental rights is in Jeff's
best interest. Therefore, we affirm the trial court's
was born in mid-February 2017, at which time Mother's two
daughters, Julia and Debby, were already under Department
care. The Department received a referral expressing concern
about Josh due to "ongoing concerns of substance abuse,
unregulated mental health issues and [Mother] being a flight
risk." Additionally, the report alleged Mother was not
complying with the service plan the Department had created
for her with respect to Julia and Debby. After speaking with
Mother and Father (who had not yet been confirmed to be
Josh's father), the Department placed Josh with relatives
under a Parental Child Safety Placement agreement (PCSP).
days after Josh was born, Mother was arrested for stealing a
car. She told the Department she had only borrowed the car
from a friend.
early May 2017, the Department formally removed Josh from
Mother's care and filed this lawsuit. The record does not
reflect why removal was made at that time. The trial court
appointed the Department to be Josh's temporary managing
conservator, and he remained in his PCSP.
Family service plan
a full adversary hearing, the trial court signed an order
requiring Mother to comply with any family service plan by
the Department. The service plan would identify the goals she
needed to achieve and tasks and services she needed to
complete before Josh could be returned to her care. Though it
appears a service plan was created for Mother, no service
plan is included in the appellate record.
Termination of parent-child relationship with Julia and
January 2018, the trial court terminated Mother's
parental rights with respect to Julia and Debby. Each decree
states the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence
that Mother had, in relevant part:
knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain
in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical
or emotional well-being of the child, pursuant to §
161.001(b)(1)(D), Texas Family Code; [and]
engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with
persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical
or emotional well-being of the child, pursuant to §
161.001(b)(1)(E), Texas Family Code.
court affirmed those decrees in a single opinion in July
2018. See No. 14-18-00050-CV, In re D.E.W. a/k/a
D.W. and No. 14-18-00101-CV, In re J.D.W., 2018
WL 3432255 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] July 17, 2018, no
pet.) (mem. op.) (finding sufficient evidence to support
finding under § 161.001(b)(1)(E)) .
Evidence about Mother
testified about her drug use, as did caseworker Alexandra
Brown. No drug test results are included in the record on
appeal. Accordingly, the record reflects the types but not
the quantities of drugs Mother consumed.
testimony revealed a pattern by Mother: periods of substance
abuse, followed by brief periods of sobriety, then relapses.
Brown testified she referred Mother at least three times for
a substance abuse assessment. Mother reportedly attended some
substance abuse counseling sessions after the first
assessment but was discharged as unsuccessful. The third
referral for an assessment came after Mother, while in jail
in the spring of 2018, told Brown she understood she had a
drug problem. She allegedly said she wanted to go to an
inpatient rehabilitation facility because outpatient
rehabilitation treatment "doesn't work" for
admitted to smoking marijuana before and after this case
began. She denied using cocaine, amphetamine, or
methamphetamine, even though she reportedly tested positive
for each of those substances in July 2018. She said she was
"unstable" and "at the wrong place at the
wrong time." Mother testified she relapsed on her
younger daughter's birthday at the end of August 2018 by
time of trial, Mother had completed the assessment but said
she "was waiting" for the Department to arrange
inpatient treatment, even though, according to Brown, Mother
told her she was on a list for self-admission to a substance
abuse treatment facility. She was not attending Narcotics
Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. She did not have a sponsor
or a support system to help her combat substance abuse but
was going to look for one. Though the record suggests she had
not begun outpatient rehabilitation at the time of trial,
Mother testified she would "continue" outpatient
record reflects a 13-year criminal history for Mother. In
2005 and again in 2011, she pleaded guilty to failing to
identify herself to the police by giving a false or
fictitious name. She was arrested in 2007 for driving while
intoxicated and possession of zero to two ounces of
marijuana; the criminal court sentenced her to 10 days'
incarceration on each charge and suspended her driver's
license for one year. Nine months later, Mother pleaded
guilty to driving with a suspended license. Her license was
still suspended near the end of 2010, when she pleaded guilty
to second charge of driving with a suspended license. Mother
testified her driver's license had been suspended
"for years." She admitted to driving many times
with a suspended license, including driving herself to court
that day, and acknowledged one or both of her daughters were
frequently in the car.
2013, Mother pleaded guilty to possession of Methylone, for
which she was sentenced to serve 180 days in jail. Mother
pleaded guilty the following year for possession of a
controlled substance in ...