FROM THE LONOKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 43JV-17-148]
HONORABLE BARBARA ELMORE, JUDGE.
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
appeals from the circuit court's order terminating her
parental rights to B.G.,  born 06/13/2017. On appeal, she
argues that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support
the grounds on which her rights were terminated and (2)
termination was not in B.G.'s best interest. We affirm.
was already an open protective-services case after there was
a true finding for prenatal exposure to B.G. who was born
testing positive for amphetamine, benzodiazepine, and
buprenorphine. Appellant had also tested positive for THC,
amphetamine, benzodiazepine, and buprenorphine.
was made to appellant's home to assess the safety of B.G.
on September 19, 2017. A call had been made to family
services worker (FSW) Jordan Jackson on September 17, 2017,
regarding statements appellant made about her being scared to
leave B.G. with his father, Joe Franks. During the visit,
appellant admitted saying that Franks picked up B.G. and
"screamed and yelled into his face until the point that
he turns red" and said "[y]our mother loves you
more than me; but I love her more than you." However,
she asserted that the workers "took it out of
context." Additionally, appellant tested positive for
"Amp; Bup and Meth." Appellant stated that it was a
false positive due to her Adderall medication, but she did
not elect to contest the results.
then made some calls after which Franks entered the home and
an altercation between Franks and the FSWs began. The FSWs
called 911 and while they were trying to get to safety
outside the home, appellant got in a vehicle with B.G. and
left. When appellant left, she left her urine sample in the
home out of her sight, so the sample was not able to be
contested. Two FSWs followed appellant for about two miles
before she returned to the home and went inside. Appellant
did not have a valid driver's license and B.G. was not in
a car seat. An Officer Baldwin was at the home when they
returned. Unable to get Franks to calm down, to persuade
appellant to come out of the house, or to get the FSWs into
the home, Officer Baldwin called for assistance, and Sergeant
Page arrived shortly thereafter.
the FSWs gained entry into the house with the assistance of
law enforcement and waited on appellant to gather B.G.'s
things, appellant was advised by law enforcement that she
needed to turn B.G. and his things over to the FSWs.
Appellant declined to do so asserting that she had to call
her father. Officer Baldwin then made appellant give B.G. and
his things to Sergeant Page, who in turn gave the same to FSW
Sharlow. A seventy-two-hour hold was placed on B.G.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition
for ex parte emergency custody and dependency neglect on
September 20, 2017, alleging that B.G. was dependent
neglected as a result of neglect and parental unfitness. An
ex parte order granting the petition was entered on September
probable-cause order was entered on September 28, 2017. It
noted that the parents stipulated to the existence of
probable cause for B.G.'s removal. DHS was ordered to
arrange one hour of supervised visitation three times a week
and two hours of supervised visitation on Saturday at the
discretion of the foster parents, who were to supervise the
visitation "within sight and sound[.]" Appellant
was ordered to participate in a number of services at
DHS's expense, including but not limited to individual
and family counseling; and random drug screens. She was also
ordered to remain drug free; complete a drug-and-alcohol
assessment, following its recommendations; and maintain
stable housing and stable income. A CASA volunteer was
appointed to the case as well. Chris and Leslie
Schmeckenbecher were present-as they would be at nearly all
future hearings-and identified as "aunt/uncle foster
circuit court entered an adjudication order on November 1,
2017. Therein, the circuit court noted that this was not the
family's first contact with DHS as there had been
referrals for "Neglect-Newborn illegal substance"
against appellant that resulted in a protective-services case
that was still open when the seventy-two-hour hold was taken.
The circuit court found by a preponderance of the evidence
that B.G. was dependent-neglected specifically due to failure
to protect and drug use. The goal of the case was
January 30, 2018 review order, the goal of the case was still
reunification, but the concurrent goal of relative placement
was added. DHS was found to have made reasonable efforts to
provide services and finalized the permanency plan to achieve
the goal. In addition to its previously ordered
services, the circuit court made the following specific
8. The parents are ordered to cooperate with [DHS] and follow
the case plan. The parents will not use or possess controlled
substances which are not prescribed to them, are subject to
random drug screens and will provide a proper sample when
requested to do so, and shall obtain a drug/alcohol
assessment and follow its recommendations. The parents shall
submit to a hair follicle drug screen and the request of
[DHS]. Willful failure to obey this court's orders is
punishable, upon a finding of contempt, by fine,
imprisonment, both, or other sanctions imposed by the court.
9. Further Order: Both parents shall take another hair
follicle test. Pending the results of the hair follicle test,
the Court then shall make a decision to increase visitation.
Both parents are to comply with the Orders of the Case Plan
including the outpatient drug treatment.
May 1, 2018 review order, the goal of the case remained the
same, and supervised visitation was increased to two hours
per visit, three times a week. Visitation was to be supervised
by DHS. Appellant was ordered to complete another
drug and alcohol assessment and submit to a nail drug test,
the latter of which DHS was ordered to make a referral for
within ten days of the hearing. Appellant was also ordered to
sign a medical release for her medicine management.
circuit court's review order entered August 1, 2018, the
goal of the case and the scheduled visitation remained the
same. DHS was ordered to do weekly random drug and alcohol
screens on appellant. Furthermore, appellant was ordered to
"redo all [her] drug and alcohol class from RCA that Mr.
Green was associated with including assessment. All
individual/group class shall not include Mr. Green."
There appeared to have been some romantic involvement between
appellant and Zack Green, who was also the drug counselor for
both her and Franks.
B.G.'s attorney ad litem filed a joint petition to
terminate appellant's parental rights on September 6,
2018, citing the following as grounds for termination:
1. That a juvenile has been adjudicated by the court to be
dependent-neglected and has continued to be out of the
custody of the parent for twelve (12) months and, despite a
meaningful effort by the department to rehabilitate the
parent and correct the conditions that caused removal, those
conditions have not been remedied by the
2. That other factors or issues arose subsequent to the
filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect that
demonstrate that placement of the juvenile in the custody of
the parent is contrary to the juvenile's health, safety,
or welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate family
services, the parent has manifested the incapacity or
indifference to remedy the subsequent issues or factors or