IN THE INTEREST OF A.K.C.K., A CHILD IN THE INTEREST OF I.G.K., A CHILD
Appeal from the 315th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause Nos. 2002-02794J, 2017-05186J
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Christopher and
Frances Bourliot Justice.
these accelerated appeals, a mother seeks reversal of the
trial court's final decrees terminating her parental
rights to her two daughters. She challenges the legal and
factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial
court's findings on one predicate termination ground and
its finding that termination of her parental rights is in the
best interest of the children. We affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
("Mother") and C.K. ("Father") are the
natural parents of A.K.C.K. ("Anne") and I.G.K.
("Iris"), the two children at the center of this
termination suit.At the time of trial, Anne was seventeen
years old, and Iris was fifteen years old. The trial court
terminated both Mother's and Father's parental rights
to their children. Father has not appealed.
and Iris were both living with Mother's eldest child
"Diane" at the time of trial. Anne previously had
been living with a foster family. At trial, the trial court
preadmitted the appointed child advocate team leader's
report and the Texas Department of Family and Protective
Service's permanency report. The team leader recommended
terminating Mother's parental rights because of (1) her
long history with the Department, beginning in 1991 regarding
her care of Diane; (2) her failure to participate in the
family service plan; (3) allegations of emotional abuse and
physical neglect of both Anne and Iris; and (4) the
girls' success in their current placement with their
older half-sister. Specifically, the report states that both
girls are very happy with Diane and that Diane would like to
adopt them. According to the report, "[Diane] has been
very involved in the girls' care, is very pleased to have
them in her home and a part of their family." Diane
recently moved into a larger home to provide more space for
the girls. Anne is thriving in school and beginning the
college search process. Iris has shown increased confidence
and improved grades since moving in with her sisters.
testified that this investigation was the result of a
retaliation effort by Anne's foster parents. Mother
explained they were angry she had unenrolled Anne from her
high school. Mother said Anne split her time evenly between
the foster family and her own home. The foster family lived
in the district where Anne attended school. The foster family
also provided financial support for Anne. Mother testified
that the family did not want Iris, only Anne.
denied that she ever has had any mental health issues. Mother
said she never has been prescribed medication for her mental
health. She confirmed that she has undergone mental health
evaluations as a part of the Department's investigation.
maintained that the foster family was "framing"
her. When asked about the prior Department investigations,
Mother said that "people just randomly like to use CPS
[Children's Protective Services] as a revenge and they
just call, make false calls." Mother confirmed that she
has warned her children about a person she used to date who
is on trial for being a witch because this person may be a
danger to their family.
testified that she did not believe Anne and Iris were getting
all their needs met in Diane's home because they need
their mother. When asked whether she was aware that the girls
requested not to have visitation with her, Mother said she
believed that was not true and that the whole case was a
conspiracy. Mother further confirmed that she had given the
caseworker photos of women whom Mother believed were
practicing witchcraft to harm her and her family. Mother
testified that a family meeting with the Department and the
foster family was staged by the foster parents and the
Department "to have [Anne] have her way, or the
godparents have their way."
Byrd, the Department's conservatorship worker, testified
that the girls are doing "great" in their placement
with Diane. Iris, who had previously struggled with school,
had achieved "A and B" honor roll and increased
self-confidence since moving into Diane's home. According
to Byrd, Diane always has wanted to adopt the girls, but was
just waiting for the girls to come around on their own. Byrd
testified that when the case began, both girls were very sad,
confused, and felt displaced. The girls benefitted from the
court order directing that they have no visitation with
Mother. Without Mother in their lives, the sisters were able
to have a routine and stability without fear that Mother
would interrupt. Byrd believes that the girls "kind of
found themselves throughout this case." Anne has her
eyes set on college within the next few years, and Iris is
also beginning to think about college.
testified that Mother had not complied with her service plan.
Specifically, Mother had not complied with the psychiatric
portion or provided proof of housing. Byrd explained that the
Department is concerned because Mother takes no
responsibility for her actions. Mother cites the foster
parents and "witchcraft" as the reasons for her
daughters being removed from her care. Byrd testified that
she attempted to obtain Mother's medical records but
Mother would call the providers and "curse them
out." Mother threatened to sue the providers if they
shared her medical information. The providers informed Byrd
that they did not want to get involved. When asked to
describe Mother's behavior throughout the course of the
case, Byrd responded, "hostile, belligerent, aggressive
to me, every worker, every provider, not pleasant." Byrd
further testified that Mother had been hostile and aggressive
to Anne during the investigation.
court appointed child advocate team leader from Child
Advocates testified that she had been involved with this
family since 2008 and that there was no visitation in this
case because of Mother's erratic behavior, including
threatening behavior toward caseworkers and a hostile email
sent to Anne in 2017. According to the team leader, Child
Advocates recommended terminating Mother's parental
rights so that the girls may be adopted by Diane. The team
leader explained that Mother has not shown she can provide a
safe or stable environment for Anne or Iris.
team leader also testified that Mother had acted erratically
towards her agency, specifically stating:
[She] called my volunteer several names. She sent several
threatening emails to our organization on our website as well
as personal emails to the volunteer and CC'd her attorney
and them, telling us not to contact her, telling us that
we're liars and that we're going to pay for what
we've done, that we're part of the witchcraft that
the caseworker and the ad litem has participated in - just a
bunch of erratic angry emails that are very concerning.
team leader further explained that Mother's emails are
abusive and full of profane language.
to the team leader, the girls have greatly improved since
moving into Diane's care. Anne has continued to thrive in
school, and Iris has made a remarkable turn-around and is
also excelling in school. Both girls have told the team
leader that they would like to be adopted by their sister
Diane. According to the team leader, Anne lives in continual
fear that Mother will come back for her like she used to do
with the foster family. Child Advocates concluded that
termination of Mother's parental rights would give Anne
and Iris greater stability through adoption.
trial court signed two orders terminating Mother's
parental rights to each child with a finding by clear and
convincing evidence that Mother endangered the children and
failed to comply with the court ordered service plan and it
would be in ...