Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
IN THE INTEREST OF M.B. AND M.B., CHILDREN
appeal from the County Court at Law of Aransas County, Texas.
Justices Benavides, Longoria, and Perkes
M. BENAVIDES, JUSTICE
issues, appellant K.B., whose parental rights to M.B. (M.B.1)
and M.B. (M.B.2),  were terminated, challenges the legal and
factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the grounds
for termination and supporting a finding that termination was
in the children's best interest. See Tex. Fam.
Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (O). K.B.'s
parental rights to a third child, D.B. were not terminated.
2018, the Department of Family and Protective Services (the
Department) filed a petition seeking conservatorship of three
children, D.B., M.B.1, and M.B.2, ages fifteen, fourteen, and
twelve, respectively. Their father is R.B. D.B. and M.B.2
were removed after K.B. overdosed on prescription pills and
was hospitalized on April 20, 2018. M.B.1 was staying with
R.B. at the time. Until M.B.2 called the local police
department on April 27, 2018, while K.B. was hospitalized,
the two children had been left in the care of their paternal
grandfather and their mother's boyfriend, both of whom
drank excessively and were threatening towards them. M.B.2
reported to the local police department that they did not
know how long K.B. would be gone or where she was
K.B.'s overdose, the children lived with their mother and
paternal grandfather in a trailer on a rural plot of land
near Rockport. K.B. also shared a shack on the property with
her boyfriend. Neither the trailer nor the shack had
electricity or running water after they were damaged by
Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey hit the area on August 26,
2017. About a month after Hurricane Harvey, K.B. received
$15, 000 from FEMA to make repairs but admitted that her
father used the money "for things they needed" and
not for repairs. Eight months later, she had not made any
repairs or restored utilities. Instead she used her car and a
converter to make electricity for the trailer on a part-time
basis. The social worker also observed "large amounts of
trash and debris from their home and sheds [that were]
destroyed by Hurricane Harvey scattered throughout the
property [that] pos[ed] a safety and sanitary hazard" to
the children. When the social worker interviewed K.B., she
admitted to using methamphetamine within a week before the
children were removed.
trial court heard evidence that K.B. and two of the children
have mental health issues. K.B. was diagnosed with bipolar
disorder and depression. D.B. and M.B.1 are both
intellectually impaired. Both D.B. and M.B.1 had been cutting
themselves, and D.B. had expressed thoughts of suicide for a
year before removal. In addition, D.B. had been diagnosed
with bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, and
depression. At the time the children were removed, D.B. was
out of medication and K.B. had not taken her for follow up
appointments at the local Mental Health and Mental
Retardation facility. The school counselor had made numerous
referrals for counseling for both children, but K.B. had not
taken them. M.B.2 reported that K.B. became physically
abusive towards D.B. and M.B.1 for telling school personnel
anything about themselves or their home life. K.B. received
social security and Medicaid benefits based upon D.B.'s
moved to San Angelo when he separated from K.B., but the date
he moved was not clear from the record. M.B.1 was with him
when K.B. overdosed. When R.B. was contacted by the
Department in late April 2018, M.B.1 had been missing for
approximately 30 hours. Although she returned home safely and
reported that she had been at her boyfriend's home, the
Department was concerned. After an investigation in San
Angelo, the Department removed M.B.1. R.B. admitted to using
intravenous methamphetamine and had been for some time. R.B.
lives with his mother and his mentally ill and sometimes
violent brother who punched holes in the wall when he became
angry. R.B.'s residence was dirty with large holes in the
walls and with sheets hung as dividers between rooms. There
was a large glass cabinet at the house in which medicines and
chemicals were stored that was accessible to M.B.1.
Prior History With the Department
2005, the Department received a report that K.B. physically
abused her two eldest children by punching them, neglected
them by failing to bathe them, and the children had lice and
sores on their heads. The allegation of physical abuse was
2006, the Department received a report that a
thirteen-year-old cousin inappropriately touched D.B., who
was four years old at that time. D.B. was examined and
unusual bruises were found on her body. Both D.B. and M.B.1,
who was three, appeared to be developmentally delayed and
were unable to communicate what happened. The family
participated in services and was cooperative. The Department
was "unable to determine" the truth of the sexual
abuse allegation although they ruled out any physical abuse.
2007, the Department received another report of physical
abuse to D.B. who had a purple bruise on her swollen cheek.
D.B. also cringed if a hand was raised as if to strike her.
Home conditions were poor at the time of the investigation.
However, physical abuse was ruled out when D.B. indicated she
had fallen and her pediatrician expressed no concern.
months later in 2008, the Department received a report that
R.B. was manufacturing drugs and that K.B. and R.B. were
using drugs and placing the children at risk. Another report
of physical abuse and medical neglect was received a few days
later. Medical neglect was ruled out after an investigation
confirmed that the children were seen regularly by their
pediatrician. The Department found reason to believe
neglectful supervision but ruled out physical abuse by K.B.
and the paternal grandfather. However, the Department found
reason to believe that physical abuse by R.B. had occurred.
February 2009, the Department received another referral
alleging that the children lived in unsanitary conditions and
received inadequate physical care and supervision. At this
time, all of the children had visible head lice. Drug use by
both K.B. and R.B. was reported along with reports of other
drug users present on the property. K.B. drug tested clean
between June 2009 and March 2010. Shortly thereafter another
referral alleged that D.B. had multiple bruises on her legs
of unknown causes. The Department was unable to determine
allegations of neglectful supervision, physical abuse and
neglect, and sexual abuse. In April 2010, the Department
again ruled out physical abuse to the children.
2014, the Department received a report of possible sexual
abuse of the children based upon alleged sexual acting out by
M.B.1. The Department investigated and ruled out sexual
March 2018, the Department received a referral alleging that
the adults were unable to control the children, that D.B. was
suicidal, and that M.B.1 kicked and pushed her grandmother
which resulted in a referral to Adult Protective Services
(APS). The APS referral was closed with no services needed.
children were initially separated from each other. D.B. was
placed in a foster home in Waco and the other children were
placed in Pearland. By October 2018, the children were ...