Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 Randall County,
Texas Trial Court No. 72465L1, Honorable Jack M. Graham,
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PARKER, JJ.
the fictitious name we will use for the biological mother of
K.M., appeals the trial court's judgment terminating her
parental rights. She contends that the evidence was
insufficient to support the trial court's finding that
termination of her parental rights was in K.M.'s best
interest. We affirm.
Texas Family Code allows a court to terminate the
relationship between a parent and a child if the party
seeking termination establishes (1) one or more acts or
omissions enumerated under § 161.001(b)(1) and (2)
termination of that relationship is in the child's best
interest. In re H.W., No. 07-16-00294-CV, 2016
Tex.App. LEXIS 12846, at *4 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Dec. 5, 2016,
no pet.) (mem. op.); see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)-(2) (West Supp. 2018). Both elements must be
established by "clear and convincing evidence."
See In re H.W., 2016 Tex.App. LEXIS 12846, at *4.
That standard is met when the evidence of record "will
produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or
conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be
established." Id. at *5. In reviewing whether
the evidence is sufficient to do that, we apply the tests
described in In re K.M.L., 443 S.W.3d 101, 112-13
(Tex. 2014), and In re K.V., No. 07-16-00188-CV,
2016 Tex.App. LEXIS 11091, at *6-8 (Tex. App-Amarillo Oct.
11, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.). And, in applying those tests
to the finding of best interest, we compare the evidentiary
record to the factors itemized in Holley v. Adams,
544 S.W.2d 367, 372 (Tex. 1976).
trial court found that the evidence established three
statutory grounds warranting termination. Two related grounds
involved Christy (1) knowingly placing or knowingly allowing
K.M. to remain in conditions or surroundings that endangered
K.M.'s physical or emotional well-being and (2) engaging
in conduct or knowingly placing K.M. with persons who engaged
in conduct that endangered K.M.'s physical or emotional
well-being. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)(D), (E). The trial court also found by clear
and convincing evidence that Christy failed to comply with
the provisions of a court order that specifically established
the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of
the child. See id. § 161.001(b)(1)(O). Those
findings are not attacked on appeal. Moreover, the evidence
upon which they are based may be considered when determining
whether the best interest of the child warranted termination.
See In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d at 28.
record contains the following evidence. The Texas Department
of Family and Protective Services (the Department) became
involved with the family in July 2016, after it received
reports that K.M. was in the care of known drug users and
sellers, giving the Department reason to believe that K.M.
was neglectfully supervised and prompting the Department to
begin family support services. Shortly thereafter, in August
2016, K.M. tested positive for cocaine. Approximately one
year later, in August 2017, the Department removed K.M. from
Christy's custody when K.M. again tested positive for
learn from the record that Christy has a history of involving
herself in abusive relationships. There were allegations that
K.M.'s biological father was violent toward Christy.
During the course of the case, Christy began a relationship
with another partner, with whom Christy attended counseling.
When that relationship turned violent, Christy turned to the
Department, which responded with a safety plan that ordered
that Christy and K.M. have no contact with the then-former
partner. Christy nonetheless reconciled with her partner
after recanting her allegations of violence. This resulted in
exposing K.M. to contact with the partner. Eventually,
Christy resumed her relationship with K.M.'s biological
father, despite the prior allegations about his violence
directed at her. Initially, she denied both reconciliations
but, when confronted with social media information, she
admitted that she had returned to her abusive partners. In
December 2018, K.M.'s biological father tested positive
repeatedly left K.M. and K.M.'s infant brother, who is
the subject of a separate proceeding, in the care of her
mother. The latter had a continuing history of drug abuse and
tested positive for methamphetamine, even after purportedly
completing rehabilitation. K.M.'s infant brother, who had
also been left in his maternal grandmother's care, also
tested positive for methamphetamine approximately one year
after K.M.'s removal. This resulted in the removal of the
younger child and also evinced Christy's penchant for
poor decisions regarding care of her children. Christy's
counselor also testified about Christy regressing, returning
to her previously abusive partners, and continuing to leave
the children with caretakers who use drugs. It is the chaos
associated with abusive relationships, reconciliations, the
drug usage, and instability that, the counselor explained, is
detrimental to a child's development and sense of
well-being. Indeed, continued exposure to domestic violence
and drug abuse are circumstances supporting a trial
court's determination that termination of the
parent-child relationship is in the child's best
interest. See In re M.R., 243 S.W.3d 807, 820 (Tex.
App.-Fort Worth 2007, no pet.).
be that Christy completed most of the ordered services. Yet,
per the record, she failed to demonstrate real progress from
those services and make the necessary changes in her life
that would positively impact her children. As a Department
caseworker explained, "we'd see her fall back into
the same patterns pretty quickly" after she appeared to
be working services. So too did the record reveal her
penchant for continually exposing the children to others who
could not remain drug free.
as noted, K.M.'s biological father relinquished his
parental rights to K.M. By Christy's own admission on
this matter, she maintains that even though K.M. may not have
been able to live with her-because she was living with
K.M.'s biological father as of the date of trial-she
could maintain visitation with K.M. and "could still
visit with the child, provide the child with food and
clothing, and meet the emotional need of the child during her
possession." This observation, however, disregards
K.M.'s need for stability and permanence in his life.
record indicates that Christy and K.M. loved one another and
were bonded. Nonetheless, we consider and recognize the love
a child has for his mother but cannot permit that natural