FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [N O . 2 6 PR - 17 - 2
8 2 ] HONORABLE LYNN WILLIAMS, JUDGE
Law Offices of J. Brent Standridge, P.A., by: J. Brent
Standridge, for appellant.
Law Firm, PLLC, by: Lori D. Howard, for appellees.
LARRYD. VAUGHT, JUDGE.
Eric Swaite appeals from the final decree entered by the
Garland County Circuit Court granting the petition of Tim and
Carol Steele to adopt Jonathan's two minor children. On
appeal, Jonathan argues that the circuit court clearly erred
in finding that his consent was unnecessary for the adoption
and that adoption was in the best interest of the children.
has two children: JS (born April 15, 2014) and DS (born March
6, 2015). Their mother is Kala Dawn Steele. Kala's father
is Tim Steele, and Carol Steele is Kala's stepmother. In
June 2015, Tim and Carol were granted guardianship of JS and
DS due to Jonathan's and Kala's drug problems.
than two years later, on August 14, 2017, Tim and Carol filed
a petition to adopt JS and DS. The Steeles alleged that
consent to adoption was not required from either Jonathan or
Kala because they had failed to support or communicate with
JS and DS for at least one year. The Steeles also alleged
that adoption was in the children's best interest.
hearing on the adoption petition was held on November 14,
2017. The Steeles testified that since June 2015, they had
been the guardians of JS and DS and that neither Jonathan nor
Kala had provided support for the children despite each
having been ordered by the court to pay monthly child support
of $65. The Steeles testified that neither parent had sent
clothing, cards, gifts, or diapers since June 2015. The
Steeles stated that Jonathan and Kala had used food stamps a
few times to purchase groceries for their children around
testified that in 2015, Jonathan and Kala were awarded
visitation twice a week and that they inconsistently
exercised visitation until April 2016. Carol stated that
since June 2016, Jonathan had not seen the children and had
not called them. Tim stated that his and Carol's phone
numbers had not changed in twenty years. Tim also testified
that while he and Carol had moved in February 2017, the
postal service forwarded their mail.
further testified that she, Tim, and the boys live in a
3000-square-foot house that has three bedrooms, two and a
half baths, and a pool in the backyard. She stated that the
children are on Tim's medical insurance, that she takes
them to the doctor, and that their immunizations are current.
Lastly, Carol testified that she and Tim desired to adopt the
children and that they fully understood the responsibility of
testified that around 2015 he and Kala had no place to live,
had no jobs, and were addicted to drugs, so they asked the
Steeles to care for JS and DS. Jonathan stated that he had
been incarcerated for a drug-related offense for a few
months, released for a couple of weeks, and reincarcerated
for a year and a half. He was incarcerated at the time of the
hearing. He stated that he expected to be released in
eighteen days; he had a job in construction and a truck
waiting for him upon his release; he planned to live with his
mother; and drugs were no longer a problem for him.
conceded that he had not paid child support as ordered but
that he was willing to pay support and child-support
arrearages. He stated that he was unable to exercise
visitation with JS and DS because the Steeles would not
permit it. He said that he was unable to have phone
visitation with the children because he broke his phone and
he lost the Steeles' numbers. He said that he never tried
to send letters or cards to his children because he was told
that the Steeles had moved, and he did not have their new
address. Finally, Jonathan testified that he did not consent
to the adoption and that he wanted to continue to be the
testified that she and Jonathan had drug problems. She stated
that she turned herself in to the authorities on June 1,
2017, and she was still in custody. She conceded that she had
not paid support to the Steeles as ordered. She further
stated that she had talked to the Steeles approximately three
weeks before the hearing and that their phone numbers had not
conclusion of the hearing, the circuit court orally granted
the adoption. On November 20, 2017, the circuit court ...