FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, ELEVENTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-18-8] HONORABLE PATRICIA JAMES, JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant
Lightle, Raney, Streit & Streit, LLP, by: Jonathan R.
Streit, for appellant Vincent Peal.
K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE
Atwood and Vincent Peal appeal the Pulaski County Circuit
Court order terminating their parental rights to their child,
S.A. (10/30/17). On appeal, they both argue that the circuit
court erred by finding it was in the best interest of the
child to terminate their parental rights because the Arkansas
Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to provide
sufficient evidence of adoptability. Peal additionally argues
that the circuit court erred by terminating his parental
rights because DHS did not offer him any meaningful services.
January 4, 2018, DHS filed a petition for emergency custody
and dependency-neglect of S.A. The petition listed Atwood as
the mother and Peal as the putative father, and it stated
that Peal was incarcerated at the Jefferson County Detention
Center. In the affidavit attached to the petition, DHS
alleged that Atwood had been arrested for first-degree
terroristic threatening and endangering the welfare of a
minor. On the same day the petition was filed, the court
entered an ex parte order for emergency custody. On January
10, the court found probable cause for the emergency custody.
February 15, the court held an adjudication hearing. Both
Atwood and Peal were present. The court adjudicated S.A.
dependent-neglected based on Atwood's unfitness in that
she was "behaving erratically resulting in her arrest,
and subsequently [she] has housing instability." The
court advised Peal to contact DHS upon his release from jail
in order to obtain a DNA test and establish paternity.
court held a review hearing on June 20. Atwood and Peal did
not appear for the hearing. The court found that Atwood
"has done nothing" and that based on a DNA test,
Peal is the father of the child. The court noted that
S.A.'s foster mother testified that she is bonded to the
child and that she is interested in being a permanent
placement for her.
December 12, the court held a permanency-planning hearing.
Atwood appeared at the hearing, but Peal did not. The court
noted that Peal had gone to the DHS office in Jefferson
County and had been informed of the date and time of the
hearing but that DHS had no other contact with him. The court
noted that Atwood was in jail in Pulaski County. The court
found that both Atwood and Peal "have done nothing"
and that no progress had been made by either parent.
January 28, 2019, DHS filed a petition for termination of
Atwood's and Peal's parental rights. DHS alleged the
abandonment,  aggravated-circumstances, and subsequent-
factors grounds against both Atwood and Peal. DHS
also alleged the failure-to-remedy ground as it applies to
custodial parents against Atwood and the failure-to-remedy
ground as it applies to noncustodial parents
case proceeded to a termination hearing on March 6, 2019.
Peal did not appear for the hearing. Angela Brown testified
that she is an adoption specialist and that she ran a data
matching list in this case. She stated that there "a
possible 428 resources that meet the characteristics of the
minor child" and that the particular characteristics
used in this case were "race, age, medical, parental
testified that she was incarcerated in Pulaski County serving
a four-year sentence for a probation revocation. She stated
that she had not completed parenting classes, a
drug-and-alcohol assessment, or a psychological evaluation.