Shelby County Department of Human Resources T.W.
Shelby County Department of Human Resources C.L.B.
Shelby County Department of Human Resources
from Shelby Juvenile Court (JU-16-475.05), (JU-15-528.09),
appeal number 2180005, T.W. ("the mother") appeals
from a judgment entered by the Shelby Juvenile Court
("the juvenile court"), in case number
JU-16-475.05, terminating her parental rights to L.G.P.,
whose date of birth is June 8, 2016. In appeal number
2180006, the mother appeals from that same judgment to the
extent it was entered in case number JU-15-528.09 and
terminated her parental rights to B.E.B., whose date of birth
is September 8, 2013; in appeal number 2180030, C.L.B., the
father of B.E.B., appeals from that same judgment to the
extent it was entered in case number JU-15-28.09 and
terminated his parental rights to B.E.B.
the mother and C.L.B. argue that, considering their current
circumstances, the juvenile court erred in terminating their
parental rights; they also argue that the juvenile court
erred in determining that there were no viable alternatives,
specifically relative placements, to the termination of their
parental rights. C.L.B. also asserts that the juvenile court
failed to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978
("the ICWA"), codified at 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et
seq. We affirm the juvenile court's judgment.
March 20, 2018, the Shelby County Department of Human
Resources ("DHR") filed a petition to terminate the
parental rights of the mother and J.P. to L.G.P.; that
petition was assigned case number JU-16-475.05. That same
day, DHR filed a separate petition to terminate the parental
rights of the mother and C.L.B. to B.E.B.; that petition was
assigned case number JU-15-528.09.
trial, the juvenile court, on August 30, 2018, rendered and
entered a single judgment in case number JU-15-528.09 and
case number JU-16-475.05, terminating the parental rights of
the mother and C.L.B. to B.E.B. and of the mother and J.P. to
L.G.P. On September 12, 2018, the mother filed a
single postjudgment motion referencing both case numbers;
that motion was denied the same day. On September 13, 2018,
C.L.B. filed a postjudgment motion in case number
JU-15-528.09; that motion was denied on September 18, 2018.
September 25, 2018, the mother filed separate notices of
appeal. C.L.B. filed his notice of appeal on October 2,
mother testified that DHR had removed B.E.B. from her custody
in 2015. According to the mother, she had been using
methamphetamine and marijuana daily at that time. The mother
testified that she had subsequently received counseling
services and in-home parenting services and that she had also
attended parenting classes. The mother testified that she had
ceased using drugs for a period beginning in February 2016.
L.G.P. was born on June 8, 2016. According to the mother,
B.E.B. was placed back in her home in October 2016. The
mother testified that she had relapsed into drug use in
mother testified that, in February 2017, DHR removed B.E.B.
and L.G.P. from her home after she failed a drug test, which
had been administered by her probation officer, testing
positive for methamphetamine, "benzos," and
marijuana. She testified that she had been arrested for
possession of drugs in March 2017. She testified that, after
her arrest, she had been admitted to an inpatient
drug-rehabilitation program at Olivia's House in April
2017 but that she had been discharged from that program for
fighting with other patients. According to the mother, after
her discharge from Olivia's House, she had completed an
outpatient drug-rehabilitation program at
"Bradford" in June or July 2017.
mother testified, however, that, in March 2018, she had again
been arrested for possession of methamphetamine. The mother
admitted to having used methamphetamine at that time. Abigail
Athey, a DHR caseworker, testified that the mother had
admitted herself into Bradford's inpatient
drug-rehabilitation program in April 2018. The mother
testified that she had stayed in that program for two weeks.
According to Athey, the mother had left that program
voluntarily to go to the beach with her boyfriend.
mother testified that she had last used methamphetamine in
March 2018; she admitted, however, that, although she was
under an order from the juvenile court to submit to drug
testing, she had not submitted to drug testing in the two
months leading up to the termination-of-parental-rights
trial. At the time of the trial, the mother had two charges
pending against her for possession of drugs and was
incarcerated for failing to appear for court hearings.
testified that, at the time of the
termination-of-parental-rights trial, he was incarcerated,
having been convicted of rape in the first degree. He
testified that his estimated release date is in 2023.
Facts Regarding the Applicability of the ICWA
trial, the evidence indicated that DHR had provided forms to
the mother and C.L.B. inquiring about the possibility of
B.E.B. having Native American heritage. A form signed by
C.L.B. in 2015 indicated that he had information or belief
that B.E.B. was of Indian ancestry. The 2015 form had
requested information regarding in which Indian tribe B.E.B.,
C.L.B., or B.E.B.'s grandparent might have membership; in
response to that request, C.L.B. completed the form stating:
"Theirs [sic] several different tribes. Contact [the
paternal grandmother] for information cause I have no clue,
all of them I know Cherokee and Sue [sic]." A second
form, dated in 2017 and signed by C.L.B., was also introduced
into evidence. C.L.B. testified that his mother had assisted
him in completing the 2017 form. On the 2017 form, C.L.B.
listed Cherokee and "Ojibwa-(Chippewa)" as the
tribes in which he, B.E.B., or one of B.E.B.'s paternal
grandparents might have membership.
Pope testified that, at the direction of C.L.B., she had
inquired of the paternal grandmother of B.E.B. regarding with
which tribes C.L.B.'s family might be affiliated. She
testified that the paternal grandmother of B.E.B. had
informed her that C.L.B. was not affiliated with the Cherokee
or Sioux tribes but that she had identified the Chippewa or
Ojibwe tribe as a possibility. Pope testified that she had
contacted authorities in several different states and that
she had eventually been directed to a central location to
which, she said, she had mailed a letter requesting
information concerning whether B.E.B. would be recognized as
an Indian child or have benefits under the ICWA. DHR
introduced into evidence a letter dated May 4, 2016, that had
been mailed to the ICWA representative from the Chippewa
Indians of Mackinac, Michigan, and stated, in part:
"The father of [B.E.B.] is [C.L.B.] DOB: ..., who is
currently incarcerated in Shelby County Alabama. He informed
this Agency that his great-grandmother has Native American
Heritage. I have spoken with the Paternal Grandmother ...
DOB: ..., who informed me that her father is [D.K.] DOB:
Unknown and his mother is [M.C.] DOB: ... (Census Enclosed)
also known as [A.M.C.] who was included in the 1927
"Please review and mail or fax a letter determining if
you recognize that [B.E.B.] is part of the Chippewa Tribe and
is eligible for benefits. ..."
also introduced a letter from the Bay Mills Indian Community
dated May 19, 2016, in response to an inquiry from DHR; that
letter indicated that B.E.B. was not eligible for membership
in the Bay Mills Indian Community.
judgment terminating parental rights must be supported by
clear and convincing evidence, which is
"'"[e]vidence that, when weighed against
evidence in opposition, will produce in the mind of the trier
of fact a firm conviction as to each essential element of the
claim and a high probability as to the correctness of the
conclusion."'" C.O. v. Jefferson Cty.
Dep't of Human Res., 206 So.3d 621, 627 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2016) (quoting L.M. v. D.D.F., 840 So.2d
171, 179 (Ala. Civ. App. 2002), quoting in turn Ala. Code
1975, § 6-11-20(b)(4)).
"'[T]he evidence necessary for appellate affirmance
of a judgment based on a factual finding in the context of a
case in which the ultimate standard for a factual decision by
the trial court is clear and convincing evidence is evidence
that a fact-finder reasonably could find to clearly and
convincingly ... establish the fact sought to be proved.'
"KGS Steel[, Inc. v. McInish, ] 47 So.3d 
at 761 [(Ala. Civ. App. 2006)].
"To analogize the test set out ... by Judge Prettyman
[in Curley v. United States, 160 F.2d 229, 232-33
(D.C. Cir. 1947), ] for trial courts ruling on motions for a
summary judgment in civil cases to which a
clear-and-convincing-evidence standard of proof applies,
'the judge must view the evidence presented through the
prism of the substantive evidentiary burden'; thus, the
appellate court must also look through a prism to determine
whether there was substantial evidence before the trial court
to support a factual finding, based upon the trial
court's weighing of the evidence, that would 'produce
in the mind [of the trial court] a firm conviction as to each
element of the claim and a high probability as to the
correctness of the conclusion.'"
Ex parte McInish, 47 So.3d 767, 778 (Ala. 2008).
This court does not reweigh the evidence but, rather,
determines whether the findings of fact made by the juvenile
court are supported by evidence that the juvenile court could
have found to be clear and convincing. See Ex parte
T.V., 971 So.2d 1, 9 (Ala. 2007). When those findings
rest on ore tenus evidence, this court presumes their
correctness. Id. We review the legal conclusions to
be drawn from the ...