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In re A.H.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eleventh District

July 18, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.H., F.H., K.H., AND C.H., CHILDREN

          On Appeal from the 326th District Court Taylor County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 8829-CX

          Panel consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J. [2]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JOHN M. BAILEY CHIEF JUSTICE

         This is an appeal from an order in which the trial court terminated the parental rights of the mother and the father of A.H., F.H., K.H., and C.H. The mother filed a notice of appeal. In two issues on appeal, she challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence. We affirm.

         Termination Findings and Standards

         The termination of parental rights must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b) (West Supp. 2018). To terminate parental rights, it must be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has committed one of the acts listed in Section 161.001(b)(1)(A)-(U) and that termination is in the best interest of the child. Id.

         Here, after a bench trial, the trial court found that Appellant had committed one of the acts listed in Section 161.001(b)(1)-that found in subsection (O). Specifically, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Appellant had failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for her to obtain the return of the children, who had been in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of their removal from Appellant for abuse or neglect. The trial court also found that termination of Appellant's parental rights would be in the best interest of the children. See Fam. § 161.001(b)(2).

         To determine if the evidence is legally sufficient in a parental termination case, we review all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the finding and determine whether a rational trier of fact could have formed a firm belief or conviction that its finding was true. In re J.P.B., 180 S.W.3d 570, 573 (Tex. 2005). To determine if the evidence is factually sufficient, we give due deference to the finding and determine whether, on the entire record, a factfinder could reasonably form a firm belief or conviction about the truth of the allegations against the parent. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25-26 (Tex. 2002).

         With respect to the best interest of a child, no unique set of factors need be proved. In re C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d 261, 266 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2010, pet. denied). But courts may use the non-exhaustive Holley factors to shape their analysis. Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 371-72 (Tex. 1976). These include, but are not limited to, (1) the desires of the child, (2) the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future, (3) the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future, (4) the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody, (5) the programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child, (6) the plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody, (7) the stability of the home or proposed placement, (8) the acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and (9) any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent. Id. Additionally, evidence that proves one or more statutory grounds for termination may also constitute evidence illustrating that termination is in the child's best interest. C.J.O., 325 S.W.3d at 266.

         Background

         The record reflects that the Department became involved with the family in this case due to the use of methamphetamine by both parents. In July 2017, an intake occurred because the father was acting strangely, perhaps hallucinating, while walking around an apartment complex holding C.H., who was an infant. Both parents appeared to be agitated and under the influence, and they refused to submit to a drug screen at that time. A hair follicle test conducted the next day showed Appellant to be positive for methamphetamine. The father admitted to methamphetamine use, and the results of his hair follicle corroborated his admission. Although the two oldest children's drug tests came back negative, K.H., who was two years old at that time, tested positive for methamphetamine. The Department did not have C.H. tested. The children were removed and placed together in foster care.

         After removal, Appellant tested positive for methamphetamine at a level greater than 1500 in every drug test to which she submitted, which included tests in July 2017, August 2017, November 2017, December 2017, and January 2018. Appellant thereafter refused the Department's requests to submit to drug testing. While the parental termination case was pending, Appellant was arrested a few times and was convicted of the offense of possession of methamphetamine. Appellant's arrests were drug related. Despite her drug problem, Appellant failed to attend drug and alcohol treatment as required by her court-ordered family service plan. She also failed to comply with most of the other provisions of the court-ordered family service plan.

         The Department's goal for the children was termination of both parents' parental rights and adoption by various others. The relatives with whom the Department planned to place the three oldest children did not believe that the children would be safe if returned to the parents. The Department believed that termination of both parents' rights would be in the best interest of the children. The children were well-adjusted and were doing well in their placement.

         The Department planned for A.H. to be adopted by a paternal aunt, for F.H. and K.H. to be adopted by a paternal uncle, and for C.H. to be adopted by the foster parents with whom he had been placed since he was eighteen days old. Other than the parents, all involved were in favor of this plan. A.H. was excited about going to live with her aunt, and the aunt wanted to adopt A.H. The uncle and his wife indicated that they would be willing to adopt F.H. and K.H. F.H. was interested in being placed with the uncle, and K.H. was too young to really understand what was going on. The foster parents wished to adopt C.H., and C.H., who was eighteen months old at the time of ...


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