FROM THE UNION COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 70JV-16-193]
HONORABLE EDWIN KEATON, JUDGE.
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee. Chrestman Group,
PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor
BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE.
McHenry appeals the Union County Circuit Court's
termination of her parental rights to C.H.1, C.H.2, C.H.3,
and C.M. We affirm.
case started when the Arkansas Department of Human Services
(DHS) received a child-maltreatment report after the meconium
of Stephanie McHenry's fourth child tested positive for
marijuana in February 2016. Services were started for the
family, and a Union County social worker checked regularly on
the children. There were concerns that Stephanie's eldest
son, C.M., age 15, was babysitting the children-including
C.H.3, an infant who had just been released from Arkansas
Children's Hospital after a lengthy stay following his
premature birth. More childcare and other services were
provided, but on 3 August 2016, Stephanie had a positive drug
test with "faint lines" for amphetamines, and she
admitted that she had used methamphetamine.
children were adjudicated dependent-neglected on 9 January
2017 based primarily on Stephanie's positive drug test
and a lice infestation. The court ordered Stephanie to submit
to random drug screens, successfully complete parenting
classes and psychotherapy counseling, successfully attend
NA/AA meetings, maintain housing, allow the DHS access to the
home, obtain employment, and maintain regular contact with
the juveniles. In March 2017, the court ordered Stephanie to
follow "Loren Beck's plan for substance abuse
treatment" and not to use or possess alcohol.
April 2017, the court ordered alternating weekend visitation
between the children and Stephanie-ordering Stephanie not to
smoke or "have the odor of smoke on her during the
weekend visits." On 1 May 2017, the court entered an
agreed order of a 60-day trial visit between Stephanie and
July 2017 DHS filed a motion for ex parte emergency custody,
alleging "circumstances have changed since the entry of
the most recent temporary custody order concerning [C.M.] and
[C.H.1]." DHS alleged that Stephanie had been drinking
on July 4 in violation of the court's order, and was
involved in a "domestic dispute with Jonathan Keanobody,
someone she said she was not in a relationship with and had
taken off in the middle of the night walking with her three
(3) youngest children in the woods." An attached
affidavit by a DHS caseworker detailed the events of the
night. The court entered an order of emergency change of
custody on July 11.
review order was entered on 12 July 2017. It reflected that
C.H.1 started a trial visit on May 15 and C.M. started a
trial visit on May 22, before the emergency order changing
custody back to DHS was entered on July 11. The court entered
a permanency-planning order on 6 October 2017, which changed
the case goal to adoption. DHS filed a petition for
termination of parental rights on 12 September 2017, alleging
two statutory grounds-the 12-month ground and the
aggravated-circumstances ground. Ark. Code Ann. §§
(b)(3)(B)(ix)(a) (Supp. 2017).
circuit court convened a hearing on DHS's termination
petition on 16 October 2017. We have reviewed the record and
all the testimony but have included only the most critical
alcohol-and-drug counselor, Loren Beck, testified that he
recommended intensive outpatient therapy for Stephanie after
an initial assessment spun by the 2016 child-maltreatment
report. Stephanie completed treatment but there were problems
along the way. For example, in December 2016 Stephanie
admitted drinking around the holidays. Drinking was not
allowed under Beck's treatment plan. Beck restarted his
plan with Stephanie in February 2017, and again in mid-April.
Beck discharged Stephanie from treatment after she completed
"a very client-specific plan" in May 2017. After
the July 4 incident, Stephanie completed eight-week interim
services and remained active in the aftercare program,
according to Beck. Beck's prognosis for Stephanie's
sobriety was "guarded" because Stephanie
"doesn't believe that she has a problem with alcohol
cross-examination, Beck stated that the court adopted his
February 2017 recommendations that Stephanie abstain from
alcohol, that he found out about Stephanie's boyfriend
from the staffing, and that in mid-April 2017 Stephanie
started to be open and honest about her life and treatment.
Beck said that after the July 4 incident, Stephanie started
going to lots of extra treatment, group meetings, and
Taylor, the foster mom to C.H.2 and C.H.3, testified that the
children "went for a trial visit" around 19 June
2017 and returned to her home on July 4 or 5. Taylor reported
that when C.H.2 and C.H.3 returned, they were dirty, covered
in bug bites, and had lice and a few fleas on them. C.H.2
regressed in her toilet training and played with her urine.
C.H.3 was a happy baby before ...