Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
IN THE INTEREST OF T.C., A.C., J.D., AND K.J., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 304th Judicial District Court Dallas County,
Texas, Trial Court Cause No. JC-17-00829-W
Justices Bridges, Partida-Kipness, and Carlyle.
L. CARLYLE JUSTICE.
challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence
supporting the trial court's conclusion that terminating
her parental rights to four of her six children was in the
children's best interests; she also contends the trial
court erred by ordering injunctive relief. We affirm and,
because the issues are settled in law, issue this memorandum
opinion. See Tex. R. App. P. 47.4.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (the
Department) first became involved with Mother in 2014, after
her child, J.L.D., tested positive for barbiturates and
cocaine at birth. At the time, Mother admitted using
hydrocodone and marijuana during her pregnancy. In June 2017,
the Department again was contacted when W.M.'s meconium
tested positive for cocaine shortly after birth. Mother
contended she had not used cocaine in the last five years,
but her hair tested positive for the drug and she later
admitted using cocaine as late as January 2017.
Mother's drug test was pending, the Department
temporarily placed the children with Mother's
relatives-first with her grandmother and then with her aunt,
L.M. In August 2017, the Department removed the children from
L.M.'s care, and the Department filed its Original
Petition for Protection of a Child, Conservatorship, and
Termination in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.
The petition involved each of Mother's six children-T.C.,
Jr.; A.C.; K.M.; J.L.D.; K.P.J., Jr.; and W.M. At the time of
the removal, K.M. was found with first- and second-degree
burns on his stomach. Although the burns resulted from an
accident,  Mother was alleged to have been negligent
in not seeking medical treatment.
September 2017, the trial court entered a temporary order
appointing the Department as managing conservators for the
children and requiring Mother to complete parenting classes,
a psychological evaluation, counseling, a drug-and-alcohol
assessment, and drug testing. A few months later, the trial
court conducted a contested hearing on the issue of
placement. Despite an unfavorable home study, the trial court
temporarily placed five children with L.M. K.P.J., Jr.
remained with his paternal grandmother, K.J.
March 2018, the Department filed an emergency motion seeking
to have the children removed from L.M.'s care after
concerns arose about the children's welfare following
numerous home visits. The court granted the Department's
motion and ordered the children's removal.
February 2019, the trial court held a permanent placement
hearing. Before the hearing, Mother reached an agreement with
K.M.'s father and paternal grandmother, which the court
adopted. Under the agreement, Mother's parental rights to
K.M. were not terminated, but the paternal grandmother was
named managing conservator, and both Mother and father were
named possessory conservators with access to supervised
visitation. As to the placement of the other children, the
court received evidence and arguments presented by the
Department, Mother, some of the fathers, and other interested
caseworker Yesenia Sanchez testified Mother did not complete
her court-ordered counseling, and Mother's hair strands
consistently tested positive for cocaine throughout the
entirety of the case. Sanchez described Mother as
"unstable," and recounted how Mother allegedly
assaulted her in March 2018 as she and another caseworker
were removing the children from L.M.'s care. Sanchez
described how Mother swung at her multiple times and hit her
in the back in front of five of the children. In addition, as
the caseworkers were leaving with the children in their cars,
a caseworker's car was rear-ended by the car in which
Mother arrived at the scene.Sanchez further testified Mother
threatened her life in text messages and made threatening
phone calls to her. Sanchez did not see any improvement in
Mother's stability as the case progressed.
Obaze is a licensed professional counselor and
chemical-dependency counselor who met with Mother. She
testified that although Mother initially attended
court-ordered counseling sessions, she abandoned the process
before it was completed. Obaze believed Mother required
inpatient treatment for both substance-abuse and
mental-health issues. She further testified that, although
she believed Mother genuinely loved her children and wanted
what was best for them, "at this time because she's
impaired both mental health-wise and substance abuse - with
her substance abuse struggles she's not capable of making
a decision of taking care of the kids." Obaze's
Closure Summary Report, which was admitted into evidence,
stated that until Mother's mental-health and drug-abuse
issues are "addressed in a specialized environment,
[her] dual diagnosis will continue to impair her ability to
make appropriate choices, ensure the safety and security of
her children, and provide a stable home environment."
number of the children's foster caregivers also provided
testimony concerning Mother. F.W. (A.C. and T.C., Jr.'s
paternal grandmother) testified Mother's behavior was
erratic. Sometimes her interactions with Mother were
"real good." Other times, Mother would threaten
her. F.W. did not believe Mother would carry out those
threats, but she recalled Mother once said "[s]he was
gon' kill herself and her kids." F.W. did not think
Mother was "a bad person; it just depends on her
days." She added that, when Mother was having a good
day, she was comfortable allowing Mother to supervise the
children under certain conditions.
(J.L.D.'s foster caregiver) testified that when she first
started caring for J.L.D., it was because she assumed J.L.D.
was the child of a man she was dating at the time. She said
that they initially would take care of J.L.D. on weekends
only, "but then [Mother] was showing neglect toward her
so we end[ed] up taking her in and taking care of her."
She said that at one point Mother "went off" on her
and told her she wished S.W. and her other child would die.
(K.P.J., Jr.'s paternal grandmother) testified she did
not have any poor interactions with Mother but admitted her
contacts with Mother were very limited.
those who testified favorably for Mother was C.K., a
long-time family friend. She testified she did not understand
why the proceedings were necessary. She felt the kids were
being cared for, and she had no reason to believe the kids
needed to be supervised when they were with Mother. She
stated that, although Mother made some "bad
choices," she loved her kids. When asked to elaborate
about Mother's "bad choices," she explained she
was referring to the testimony she heard in court (presumably
about Mother testing positive for drugs). But she did not
fault or judge Mother, noting that "[w]e all make
Mother's aunt, testified she felt Mother was "a good
mom." Although Mother made an unspecified
"mistake," she believed "everyone deserves a
chance, and [Mother is] working on it." She said Mother
loves and spoils her children. And she believed once Mother
gets "herself together she's a good mother."
When asked what she believed Mother "needs to get
together," the aunt replied: "Her attitude for one
thing. She need to work on that." But L.M. felt
Mother's attitude likely was caused by the toll the
Department's case was taking on her.
testified she suffers from depression, bipolar disorder, and
schizophrenia. She believes these conditions cause her to act
with anger and volatility at times. She said she last used
cocaine in January 2017, and she could not explain either why
her hair strands continued to test positive for the drug or
why the highest levels were detected in December 2018. She
explained she had heard that a "hair strand test go back
years." She said she completed drug treatment,
completed her counseling,  completed a
psychological evaluation, and did not know why the Department
wanted to keep her away from her kids. She believed the kids
would be safe with her.
acknowledged she needs to "get [her]self together."
To do that, she planned to continue working at her job, go to
drug rehab, continue utilizing services for her
"incarceration management," and do everything in
her power to take care of her kids. She was committed to
getting a high-school diploma or GED, and when asked how long
she would need to get herself together, Mother said one
month. Mother did not believe termination was in the best
interest of any of her children.
March 2018 psychological assessment was admitted into
evidence. She reported to the examiner that she suffers from
hallucinations and suicidal ideations, and she stated she
hears voices telling her someone is out to get her. She
described a recent visual hallucination where she saw a
cigarette turn into a light stick, which "really freaked
[her] out." Mother reported that, although she was
taking medication to treat her bipolar disorder and
schizophrenia, her symptoms were getting worse. Nevertheless,
she stated she would never harm or kill herself, because her
children are too important to her. Mother admitted to using
cocaine before the birth of J.L.D. and K.M., but she asserted
she was drug free at the time of the evaluation.
to the assessment, Mother's answers to the "Child
Abuse Potential Inventory" questionnaire-a screening
tool used to assess the risk of physical child
abuse-indicated elevated scores on each of the
questionnaire's risk-assessment scales. Of particular
note, Mother's elevated "Abuse Scale score
indicat[es] she has characteristics similar to known, active
physical child abusers."
examiner provisionally diagnosed Mother with: (1) "Child
Neglect, Confirmed, Subsequent Encounter"; (2)
"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Provisional)"; (3)
"Schizoaffective Disorder (Provisional)"; (4)
"Cocaine Use Disorder, Mild, In Remission by Client
Report"; and (5) "Cannabis Use Disorder, Mild, In
Remission by Client Report." The examiner estimated that
Mother's capacity and ability to make decisions in the
best interests of her children was "moderately
Directed at the ...