FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72JV-17-976]
HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, JUDGE
Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE
Laura Hilburn appeals the January 25, 2018 adjudication order
entered by the Washington County Circuit Court adjudicating
her child, T.M., dependent-neglected. Hilburn argues that the
evidence does not support the circuit court's finding
that T.M. was dependent-neglected. We affirm.
Hilburn has given birth to eight children. Her parental
rights as to the oldest two children previously have been
terminated, and the remaining six-including one-year-old C.H.
and newborn T.M.-are in foster care. On December 27, 2016,
the Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) removed
five-day-old C.H. from Hilburn's custody. Three months
later, the circuit court conducted an adjudication hearing at
which time the circuit court found that, given Hilburn's
methamphetamine addiction and usage, C.H. was
dependent-neglected. During the six months that followed,
ADHS performed drug screens on Hilburn at least seven times.
She failed each screen, testing positive for THC on March 21;
for methamphetamine, amphetamines, and THC on April 4, and
June 9; for THC on June 27, August 4, and August 10; and for
methamphetamine, amphetamines, and THC on September 6.
months after Hilburn's last positive methamphetamine drug
screen, she gave birth to T.M. on December 13, 2017. T.M. was
not born with drugs in his system and does not seem to be
suffering any adverse effects. Although Hilburn also tested
negative at the time of T.M.'s delivery for any illegal
substances, given her history of drug abuse coupled with her
recent illegal drug use while pregnant, ADHS assumed
emergency custody of two-day-old T.M.
was removed from the hospital by ADHS on an emergency basis
because of neglect and parental unfitness to the juvenile, a
sibling, or other juvenile. The affidavit accompanying the
order stated that Hilburn had used drugs throughout the
pregnancy and had other terminations regarding her parental
rights. One month later, the circuit court conducted an
adjudication hearing in which it found that as a parent,
Hilburn was unfit:
The Court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
[T.M.] is dependent/neglected as defined by the Arkansas
Juvenile Code, as [T.M.] is at substantial risk of serious
harm as a result of . . . [parental unfitness].
Such finding is based on the Court's determination, after
considering the evidence presented at this hearing, that
these allegations in the petition and affidavit are true and
correct. Specifically, in the open foster care case of
[T.M.'s] half-sibling, [C.H. (72JV-16-952)], Hilburn
continued to test positive for illegal drugs-including
methamphetamine-during the course of her pregnancy with
In the permanency planning hearing order from [72JV-16-952],
and in the review hearing order from [72JV-16-952], the Court
found that [Hilburn] tested positive for methamphetamine
while she was pregnant with [T.M.] . . . .
The Court finds that [Hilburn] was using methamphetamine
while knowingly pregnant with [T.M.]. [Hilburn] testified
today that the last time she used methamphetamine was in
September-[Hilburn] was approximately seven (7) months
pregnant with [T.M.] at that time. [Hilburn] had (and has)
another [dependency-neglect] case on sibling [C.H.
(72JV-16-952)] which is open-[Hilburn] was [unreadable] is