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In re M.M.C.D-E.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

December 27, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF M.M.C.D-E., a Child

          From the 150th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017-PA-01118 Honorable David A. Canales, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Beth Watkins, Justice Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PATRICIA O. ALVAREZ, JUSTICE

         AFFIRMED; MOTION TO WITHDRAW DENIED

         Mom appeals the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her child M.M.C.D-E.[1] Her court-appointed counsel filed an Anders brief, and Mom did not file a pro se brief. Because there are no arguable grounds for review or reversible error, we affirm the trial court's order.

         Background

         In May 2017, the Department of Family and Protective Services petitioned for custody of M.M.C.D-E. based on an allegation that Mom had thrown M.M.C.D-E. across the room and Mom had, in the past, harmed herself. The trial court gave temporary conservatorship to the Department, and the Department placed the child in a parental-child safety placement. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 264.902 (Parental Child Safety Placement Agreement). Tragically, in the placement, the child suffered serious, life-threating, and permanently-life-altering injuries.

         The trial court heard evidence of M.M.C.D-E.'s injuries, which include severe neurological impairments due to a traumatic brain injury. M.M.C.D-E. has severe developmental delay and recurring seizures. He has a VP shunt, a gastrostomy, a ventilator, and he requires constant care from a private-duty nurse to ensure he is fed properly and is able to breathe properly. He receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy weekly. He is under the care of an ear, nose, and throat specialist; a general surgeon; a neurologist; a neurosurgeon; an ophthalmologist; an orthopedist; and a sleep specialist.

         The trial court also heard evidence of Mom's mental health from a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and her behaviors from Department investigators and case workers. The psychiatrist testified that Mom "displayed a lot of tangential thinking, . . . she can't stay on topic . . . [and her] thinking was at times quite disorganized." Mom has "generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder." Mom has had "lifelong difficulties with concentration, impulsivity, interrupting people when they are speaking, [and] having difficulty following conversations when people are speaking to her."

         The Department workers testified that Mom was moving M.M.C.D-E.'s hospital room equipment without permission, her behaviors disrupted M.M.C.D-E.'s medical appointments and she was no longer allowed to participate in them, she underreported her criminal history, she did not understand how to care for M.M.C.D-E., and she did not have the mental ability to remain focused, alert, and able to respond to M.M.C.D-E.'s life-sustaining needs.

         Multiple witnesses testified to facts that support the conclusion that, because of Mom's mental illnesses and M.M.C.D-E.'s special needs, it would be difficult or impossible for Mom to meet M.M.C.D-E.'s needs. See In re E.R., 555 S.W.3d 796, 809 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2018, no pet.) ("The needier the child, the more able the parent must be." (quoting In re A.L.M., 300 S.W.3d 914, 919 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 2009, no pet.))).

         Several witnesses also testified that it would not be in the child's best interest for him to be placed in Mom's care. They noted M.M.C.D-E. is being well cared for in his foster placement, and the foster family is interested in adopting him.

         The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Mom's mental conditions make her unable to provide for M.M.C.D-E.'s highly specialized needs, Mom's course of conduct met section 161.001(b)(1)(M)'s grounds, and terminating Mom's parental rights was in the child's best interest. It terminated Mom's parental rights to M.M.C.D-E. Mom appeals.

         Anders ...


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