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Appellant v. Arkansas Department of Human Services and Minor Child

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

March 7, 2018



          Tina Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

          Mary Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

          Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor child.


         Mahmoud Abdi appeals the Pulaski County Circuit Court order terminating his parental rights to his son, H.A. On appeal, Abdi argues that the circuit court erred in finding that (1) a statutory ground supported termination and (2) it was in H.A.'s best interest to terminate his parental rights. We affirm.

         On January 25, 2016, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect of H.A. In the affidavit attached to the petition, DHS alleged it had received a report concerning H.A.'s mother's, Chavi Stampley's, mental health after she gave birth to his half sister, N.S.[1] When a DHS worker made contact with Stampley, Stampley stated that she had left H.A. with Abdi while she gave birth to N.S. DHS interviewed Abdi, and he explained that he and Stampley had been in a relationship for ten years, but they were no longer together. He stated that he previously had custody of H.A. He had then returned custody of H.A. to Stampley, but a month before she was to give birth to N.S., she had returned custody back to him. The court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody on the same day the petition was filed.

         On February 1, 2016, the court entered a probable-cause order. The court found probable cause for the emergency custody and awarded Abdi visitation with the child. On March 14, 2016, the court adjudicated H.A. dependent-neglected based on Stampley's parental unfitness, but the court found that Abdi did not contribute to the dependency-neglect finding. As to Abdi, the court found:

Mr. Abdi is the one that has taken care of [H.A.], but Mr. Abdi has made some poor decisions along the way. He should take advantage of the services offered to work past these issues so they are not concerns anymore. Mr. Abdi should encourage [H.A.], but he should not make any false promises. Mr. Abdi needs to stop drinking alcohol altogether. Alcohol has been an issue in his past; he had to go to drug and alcohol classes because of it.

         On July 13, 2016, the court held a review hearing. Danielle Kimbrough, a DHS employee, testified that Abdi was in partial compliance with the case plan in that he had visited H.A. and was attending parenting classes. However, she testified that he had tested positive for alcohol on a screening on May 10 and had not completed his drug-and-alcohol assessment. She further noted that he had attempted to complete his psychological evaluation but needed an interpreter and that a referral had been made. The court found that Abdi "is doing a bit better, but still needs work" and ordered him "to get going and finish services."

         On January 11, 2017, the court entered a permanency-planning order. The court authorized DHS to proceed with termination of Stampley's parental rights, although the court found that Abdi had made substantial, measurable progress and ordered that services to him should continue. The court believed placement with Abdi could occur by or at the next hearing, which would be within three months. The court granted Abdi unsupervised visitation at the DHS office with progression to day visits at Abdi's home, at DHS's discretion. The court further ordered him to ensure that all his criminal fines, fees, and requirements were up to date.

         On February 14, 2017, DHS filed a motion for revocation of Abdi's unsupervised visitation. DHS alleged that during the first unsupervised visit at Abdi's home, H.A. called his foster mother to pick him up because Abdi had drunk several bottles of liquor and had been so intoxicated that he would not wake up. When the foster parents arrived, they observed that Abdi appeared to be intoxicated. On the same day the motion was filed, the court entered an order revoking Abdi's unsupervised visitation.

         On April 5, 2017, the court entered a permanency-planning order. The court found Abdi "has an alcohol problem. It is obvious to everyone but him." The court further found that DHS may make a drug-and-alcohol-assessment referral, but it did "not believe [Abdi] will be truthful." The court changed the goal of the case to adoption with proceeding toward termination of parental rights.

         On April 21, 2017, DHS filed a petition for termination of Abdi's parental rights. DHS alleged three grounds for termination: (1) the child had been adjudicated dependent-neglected and had continued to be out of the home of the noncustodial parent for twelve months and despite a meaningful effort by DHS to rehabilitate the parent and correct the conditions that prevented the child from safely being placed in the parent's home, the parent had failed to remedy the conditions; (2) other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the original petition for dependency neglect that demonstrate that placement of the child in the custody of the parent is contrary to the child's health, safety, or welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate services, the parent has manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy the subsequent issues or factors or rehabilitate the parent's circumstances that prevent the placement of the ...

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