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In re E.M.

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division III

May 17, 2019

IN RE THE MATTER OF E.M., Deprived Child: LACIE ROBISON, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF OKLAHOMA, Appellee.

          Mandate Issued: 06/12/2019

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF ROGERS COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE TERRELL S. CROSSON, JUDGE

          C. Alison Wade, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Appellant,

          Kali Strain, Zachary Cabell, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Claremore, Oklahoma, for Appellee,

          Kacie Cresswell, Owasso, Oklahoma, for the Child.

          ROBERT D. BELL, JUDGE

         ¶1 Appellant, Lacie Robison (Mother), appeals from the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her minor child, E.M. Appellee, the State of Oklahoma (State), filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights on the basis that she failed to correct the conditions for which the child was found to be deprived: Mother failed to correct the conditions of threat of harm, exposure to drug abuse, and failure to protect, even though she was given at least three (3) months to correct the conditions. State also alleged termination of Mother's parental rights would be in the child's best interests. After reviewing the record, we find clear and convincing evidence supports the grounds for termination of Mother's parental rights pursuant to 10A O.S.Supp. 2015 §1-4-904(B)(5) for her failure to correct the conditions of threat of harm, exposure to drug abuse, and failure to protect, even though she was given at least three (3) months to correct the conditions, and that the termination of Mother's parental rights is in the child's best interest. However, the order is remanded to the trial court with instructions to specifically state the uncorrected conditions with particularity, to identify the statutory basis for the termination, and to require Mother to pay child support.

         ¶2 The minor child was born August 1, 2016, and taken into emergency custody by the Department of Human Services (DHS) as soon as he was discharged from the hospital. State filed a petition to have the child adjudicated deprived August 19, 2016. State alleged Mother admitted to using drugs, specifically methamphetamine, while pregnant and within the last three months. State also alleged the biological father hit Mother during pregnancy causing her to have a black eye, the parents' previous child was removed from their care under a guardianship filing, the parents have an extensive criminal history, and it would be in the child's best interest to be adjudicated deprived. The child was adjudicated deprived September 27, 2016. [1]

         ¶3 The trial court ordered an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) for Mother November 22, 2016. The ISP ordered Mother to undergo a mental health evaluation; attend and obtain treatment for substance abuse (methamphetamine); obtain an assessment for battery; attend a victim's assessment; and obtain and maintain legal employment and provide a safe, stable, and clean home for the child.

         ¶4 During the proceeding, Mother had a warrant out for her arrest for aggravated assault and battery. Mother turned herself into Rogers County Jail on February 7, 2017. On May 23, 2017, a bench warrant for Mother was issued due to her violating terms of her probation. Mother was incarcerated when the pre-trial conference was set. Mother was released from Rogers County Jail January 24, 2018.

         ¶5 On March 3, 2017, State filed a motion to terminate Mother's parental rights pursuant to 10A O.S. §1-4-904(B)(5). State specifically alleged Mother's parental rights should be terminated because Mother failed to correct the conditions of threat of harm, exposure to drug abuse, and failure to protect, even though she was given at least three (3) months to correct the conditions. State also alleged termination of Mother's parental rights would be in the child's best interests.

         ¶6 On January 9, 2018, the court's permanency review order notes Mother was sworn in and questioned by the court about Mother's stated desire to waive her right to a jury trial. This matter proceeded to a bench trial. A DHS permanency worker and Mother testified at trial. Mother conceded she had not corrected the conditions or worked on the ISP when State filed the motion to terminate. Mother alleged she was incarcerated during this time frame, she did not have a place to live with the child and she had not completed her drug treatment. Mother stated the child was placed in DHS custody at four (4) weeks of age, and now the child is two (2) years old. Mother conceded the child has never lived with her and she has not cared for the child. But, she urged her parental rights should not be terminated because she was sober and had a job. Mother testified she discontinued taking medications prescribed to her for her mental health because she did not believe she needed same. She did not seek a physician's advice before discontinuing the medications.

         ¶7 The DHS permanency worker testified the child should be adopted by the current foster family. The DHS worker stated the child is happy and does not look to Mother for nurturing. The DHS worker stated Mother addressed some conditions only after the motion to terminate was filed because Mother's incarceration delayed the termination hearing. The DHS worker stated Mother was taken for an assessment and offered inpatient treatment, which Mother refused.

         ¶8 At the conclusion of trial, the trial court announced considering all the evidence and the mitigation that Mother completed, the clear and convincing evidence shows Mother failed to correct the conditions of threat of harm, exposure to drug abuse and failure to protect for which the child was found to be deprived even though Mother was given at least three months to do so. And, because the child has been in DHS custody for his entire life, the court also found it was in the child's best interests for Mother's parental rights to be terminated. While these detailed findings were announced at the trial, the trial court's order neglected to state the child's date of birth, it failed to ...


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