IN THE INTEREST OF I. V. H., A CHILD
Appeal from the 328th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 17-DCV-245784
consists of Justices Lloyd, Goodman, and Landau.
mother and father appeal the trial court's decree
terminating their parental rights to their daughter, Iris.
They contend that the evidence is insufficient to support (1)
the predicate grounds for termination found by the trial
court as well as its findings that (2) termination is in the
child's best interest and (3) the Department made
reasonable efforts to identify and evaluate relatives who
could provide Iris with a safe environment. The parents also
contend that the trial court erred in striking Iris's
paternal grandmother's motion in intervention. We affirm.
mother and father were both 21 years old at the time of
trial. They had been removed from their birth families in
childhood. The mother grew up in an adoptive home; the father
was raised by a foster mother who later adopted him.
the father's first child and the mother's third. The
mother quit high school in the ninth grade when she became
pregnant with her first child. That child, who was four years
old at the time of trial, lives with his maternal
grandmother, who obtained custody of him shortly after Iris
was born. The mother's second child, born two years
later, tested positive for marijuana at birth. He does not
live with the mother either; his paternal grandparents care
leading to DFPS involvement
August 2017, the maternal grandmother contacted the
Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) with
allegations that the parents were using crack cocaine. The
mother, who was seven months' pregnant, was referred to
Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS) after testing positive
for marijuana. In FBSS, the parents agreed to participate in
individual counseling and substance-abuse counseling. The
caseworker arranged for them to participate in these
services, but neither did so.
was born in October 2017. Like the mother's second child,
she tested positive for marijuana at birth. The mother
admitted to smoking marijuana daily and to using marijuana
during her second and third pregnancies. She also admitted to
using MDMA while pregnant with Iris.
Iris was born, the parents were living with the paternal
grandmother in her three-bedroom home. Under the FBSS safety
plan, the paternal grandmother was charged with supervising
Iris when she was with her parents.
childhood friend of the mother and his girlfriend also were
living in the paternal grandmother's home at that time.
The DFPS worker learned that police were surveilling the
friend on the suspicion that he was dealing drugs out of the
home. The police planned and executed a raid on the paternal
grandmother's home about two weeks after Iris's
birth, in early November 2017. In addition to the drugs found
in the friend's possession, small amounts of marijuana
and alprazolam were found in the parents' bedroom. The
police arrested the parents, their friend, and his girlfriend
on charges of drug possession. The father pleaded no contest
to two charges of possession of a controlled substance and
was sentenced to 17 days in jail.
aftermath of the raid, the DFPS took custody of Iris. The
next day, the trial court approved emergency temporary
managing conservatorship and the DFPS placed Iris in a foster
home, where she has lived ever since.
trial court incorporated the parents' family service
plans into a December 2017 order. The family service plans
required the parents to successfully complete parenting and
anger-management classes, drug counseling,
psychosocial-psychological evaluation, therapy, and drug
testing. In addition, the parents were to have twice-weekly
visits with Iris and demonstrate that they were able to
maintain stable employment and a safe and stable home. The
trial court also ordered the father to submit to paternity
testing, which confirmed that he is Iris's father.
to the family service plans, the parents appeared and
submitted urine samples for random drug screens in December
2017 and January 2018. The results of both those screens were
negative for illegal drugs. The parents failed to appear for
drug screens scheduled in February and March 2018. They
submitted to two hair-follicle drug tests during the
proceeding, testing positive for marijuana and cocaine both
April 2018, the trial court signed orders requiring the
parents to submit hair-follicle and urine samples for drug
screening, but they did not appear for testing. According to
the guardian ad litem assigned to the case, the parents
stopped responding to her texts and made no further contact
with the ad litem.
parents' psychological evaluations show that both have
extensive histories of drug abuse. The mother started using
drugs when she was 15, including marijuana, synthetic
marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA and alprazolam. The
father admitted that he is a drug addict. Since the age of
13, he has had numerous stints in rehab and has spent time in
juvenile detention. The psychologist who evaluated the father
reported that the father admitted to having used marijuana,
synthetic marijuana, LSD, MDMA, cocaine, Ambien, alprazolam,
hydrocodone, and methamphetamine. The father also reported
having been arrested nine times and had a pending theft
charge. He admitted to having committed the theft and told
the trial court that he was trying to get the charge reduced
to a misdemeanor.
parents also have been treated for mental illness. The mother
has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has received
both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care in the past.
The evaluating psychologist diagnosed her with post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis-abuse, cocaine-abuse, and
alprazolam-abuse disorders. The psychologist referred the
mother for a psychiatric evaluation, but she did not submit
father reported having previously been diagnosed with
attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and PTSD. The father
has received inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care for
these conditions. He has been prescribed various psychotropic
medications in the past but ...