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H.W. v. Morgan County Dep't of Human Resources

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

October 31, 2014

H.W.
v.
Morgan County Department of Human Resources

Released for Publication June 17, 2015.

Appeal from Morgan Juvenile Court. (JU-11-233.03). Trial Judge: Shelly Waters.

For Appellant: H. McGriff Belser III, Decatur.

For Appellee: Luther Strange, Atty. Gen., Sharon E. Ficquette, Gen. Counsel, Elizabeth Hendrix, Asst. Atty. Gen., Department of Human Resources.

DONALDSON, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Moore, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 143

DONALDSON, Judge.

H.W. (" the mother" ) appeals from a judgment of the Morgan Juvenile Court (" the juvenile court" ) terminating her parental rights to J.Z. (" the child" ), who was born on January 13, 2010. We affirm the judgment of the juvenile court.

On July 26, 2013, the Morgan County Department of Human Resources (" DHR" ) filed a petition in the juvenile court to terminate the parental rights of the mother and S.Z. (" the father" ) to the child. DHR had previously filed a dependency petition in regard to the child in March 2011, and as a result, the child had been in foster care since April 2011. On September 3, 2013, A.W., the child's maternal aunt, moved to intervene in the action, seeking to be considered as a relative resource for placement of the child. The juvenile court heard ore tenus testimony at trial on the termination petition on September 4, 2013, at which the juvenile court granted A.W.'s motion to intervene.[1]

DHR social worker Marquita McLemore testified that she began working with the mother and the child in August 2010. She testified that medical records reflected that the child had tested positive for cocaine and methadone at birth on January 13, 2010. McLemore testified that, after she began working with the mother, the mother tested positive for cocaine, benzodiazepines, and methadone on August 18, 2010, at which time the child was placed with M.G., a great-aunt, pursuant to an out-of-home safety plan. McLemore testified that she offered the mother various services, including parenting classes, drug screens, and substance-abuse counseling. After the mother failed further drug screens and missed her in-home counseling, McLemore filed a dependency petition on behalf of DHR in March 2011. McLemore testified that M.G. contacted her in April 2011 and reported that she could no longer take care of the child. McLemore testified that she located the mother at that time in the city jail and asked her if she knew of any other relatives who could possibly care for the child. McLemore testified that the mother said there were none. Thereafter, the child was placed in a foster home on April 12, 2011, and McLemore stopped working on the case.

DHR social worker Tiffany Barber testified that she began working on this case on April 12, 2011. Barber testified that services were offered to the mother, including drug screens and inpatient drug treatment. Barber testified that the mother began an inpatient drug-treatment program but left without completing the program when the mother discovered she was pregnant. Barber testified that she then offered a substance-abuse assessment to the mother through the Family Life Center, but the mother was terminated from that program for lack of participation. Barber testified that the mother continued to test positive for cocaine. Barber testified that the mother failed to maintain housing, employment, transportation, consistent communication with DHR, visitation with the child, or to pay her court-ordered child support. Barber testified that when the mother gave birth to her third child, that child tested positive for methadone at birth. Barber testified that the mother suggested A.W., K.P., and the child's maternal grandmother as possible placement resources. Barber testified

Page 144

that K.P.'s home study indicated that K.P. would not be a proper placement resource and the maternal grandmother was facing criminal drug charges. The father had no contact with the child.

DHR social worker Anna Shiro testified that she conducted a home study for A.W. in November 2012. Shiro recommended that the child not be placed with A.W. because of A.W.'s lack of sufficient finances, A.W.'s dependency on her boyfriend for finances, and concerns as to whether ...


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