Appeal from the 313th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2018-00119J
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Spain and
Thompson Frost Chief Justice.
A.H. ("Father") appeals the trial court's final
order terminating his parental rights and appointing the
Department of Family and Protective Services
("Department") as sole managing conservator of his
child Z.H. ("Zach"). On appeal, Father challenges the
legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence to support (1)
the predicate grounds under which the trial court terminated
his parental rights, and (2) the trial court's finding
that termination was in Zach's best interest. We affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
The Department's Investigation
January 2018, Mother gave birth to Zach while she was
incarcerated for aggravated assault and injury to a child
causing serious bodily injury. That charge arose out of
another Department investigation concerning Mother's care
of Zach's older brother. At the time of Zach's birth,
Father denied paternity of Zach and requested a DNA test. The
Department already was investigating Father in the case
concerning Zach's older brother.
an interview with the Department's investigator after
Zach's birth, Mother explained that before she was
incarcerated she was living in a shelter with her two
children. Mother told the investigator that she was not in a
relationship at that time. The Department removed the two
children when Mother was charged with physical abuse of one
test results indicated that Father was Zach's natural
parent. Father has a criminal history spanning several years
(2006 - 2013) consisting of the following:
• a May 2006 conviction of criminal trespass;
• a June 2007 conviction of possession of marijuana;
• a May 2012 deferred adjudication on a charge of
burglary of a vehicle; and
• an April 2013 deferred adjudication on a felony charge
of possession of a controlled substance.
Department gave Father a family service plan, which included
the requirements that Father participate in random drug
testing, complete eight weeks of parenting classes, complete
a substance-abuse assessment and follow all recommendations
from that assessment, complete a psycho-social assessment and
follow all recommendations from that assessment, and maintain
stable employment and housing. Father completed some
requirements of the plan but did not maintain his sobriety
and was discharged from a drug rehabilitation program after
the investigation regarding Zach's older brother, Father
tested positive for phencyclidine (PCP) and marijuana while
Mother was pregnant with Zach and thereafter Father then
refused drug tests.
commenced eleven months after Zach's birth. Mother
executed an affidavit of relinquishment before trial.
Huitt, the Department caseworker assigned in this matter,
testified that Zach currently was living in an adoptive
foster home with his two siblings. Huitt explained that the
Department opened this case when Mother, while incarcerated
for abusing one of her other children, gave birth to Zach.
Huitt confirmed that Father had tested positive for PCP in
August 2017, during Mother's pregnancy with Zach. Father
also tested positive for PCP on two drug tests in February
2018. According to Huitt, Father refused drug tests in May
and August of 2018. Father submitted another positive drug
test for PCP in June 2018. Huitt testified that during the
first permanency hearing in this case, Father admitted to
using PCP at least twenty times since Zach's birth.
to Huitt, Father completed his individual and group therapy
but was discharged as unsuccessful when he could not provide
proof of sobriety. Father completed his substance-abuse
assessment and psychosocial evaluation. Father provided proof
of income during the investigation, maintained continued
contact with the Department's case worker from February
through August, but ceased communication thereafter. Over the
course of the investigation Father had "a few"
visits with Zach, but ultimately the Department suspended the
visits because Father failed to submit a negative drug test.
testified that Zach is in a potentially permanent adoptive
placement with his siblings. Zach's current foster
parents are meeting all of his needs. Zach is well-bonded
with his siblings in this home. Huitt opined that the
Department does not believe Father could provide similarly
stable circumstances for Zach.