FROM THE GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 28JV-16-65]
HONORABLE BARBARA HALSEY, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE
Lawrence appeals the Greene County Circuit Court order
terminating her parental rights to her daughter, F.R. On
appeal, Lawrence argues that the circuit court erred by (1)
not complying with the notice provision of the Indian Child
Welfare Act (ICWA); (2) terminating her parental rights based
on grounds not pled in the amended petition; and (3) finding
that it is in F.R.'s best interest to terminate her
parental rights. We affirm.
March 11, 2016, the Arkansas Department of Human Services
(DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and
dependency-neglect concerning F.R. The petition listed
Lawrence as the mother and Joshua Richer as the putative
father. In the affidavit attached to the petition, DHS stated
that it had received a report from the hospital where F.R.
was born that Lawrence could not adequately care for the
child. Specifically, a nurse reported that the nursing staff
had been feeding F.R. more than Lawrence and that Lawrence
had been talking to herself and had scabies. Lawrence
admitted that she had had her rights terminated to two other
children due to her mental instability. DHS visited
Lawrence's duplex and found it inappropriate for the
child. The court entered an ex parte order for emergency
custody the day the petition was filed.
March 16, 2016, the court entered a probable-cause order. In
the order, the court included the following:
The mother does/does not have membership in or descent from
an Indian Tribe; the legal/putative father does/does not have membership in or descent from an
Indian tribe; the juvenile does/does not have membership in
or descent from an Indian tribe.
phrase "does not" appears
to be scratched through.
12, 2016, the court adjudicated F.R. dependent-neglected
based on both inadequate supervision due to Lawrence's
failure to feed the child as directed and concerns about her
mental health. The adjudication order also contains the
language concerning the "legal/putative
father['s]" relationship to an Indian tribe;
however, a line is not drawn through "does not."
September 26, 2016, the court entered a review order. The
court found that Lawrence had partially complied with the
case plan. The court noted a primary concern had been
environmental neglect and that Lawrence's home still had
"a strong odor of animal urine." The court ordered
Lawrence to have supervised visitation at the DHS office for
one hour or more.
March 6, 2017, the court entered a permanency-planning order.
The court found that Lawrence had complied with the case plan
but had not made substantial, measurable progress. The court
changed the goal of the case to adoption with DHS filing a
petition for termination of Lawrence's parental rights.
The court continued Lawrence's visitation with F.R. for
one hour every two weeks.
April 12, 2017, DHS filed a petition for termination of
parental rights. DHS alleged the failure-to-remedy ground,
subsequent-factors ground,  and aggravated-circumstances
ground. About twenty minutes after DHS had filed
its original complaint, DHS filed an amended petition for