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Drug-using mom cannot regain custody of her child

Last month the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland, Texas, upheld the decision of a lower court to terminate a woman's parental rights. According to the decision, the controversy began after police responded to a citizen's call reporting a woman staggering around while carrying a baby. Police later arrived at the scene and discovered a man and a woman, both naked, having sex in the driver's seat of the van as their 18-month-old daughter stood watching nearby. In fact, the police officer reported the toddler as being naked except for a diaper and standing right next to an exposed drug needle.

Police subsequently conducted a search of the van and recovered bath salts, speed, and 37 syringes, including one syringe which was later determined to contain heroin. The mother was later convicted of possession of a controlled substance, endangering a child and interference with child custody.

The Department of Family and Protective Services already had a case going for the emergency removal of the child prior to the woman's arrest. The daughter had tested positive for the presence of drugs in her system at the time of her birth in 2011.The toddler, who is identified only as L.J.P., was on track to be removed when the parents ran away with her. A Midland County judge formally terminated both parents' parental rights and L.J.P. went to live with foster parents who had previously taken in L.J.P's brother. That boy had also been removed from the woman's custody.

This case draws attention to the sad fact that not all parents place the best interests of their children as their top priority. Fortunately, the foster care system was able to step in and provide a more secure environment for the girl, but is foster care the best place for her? Perhaps the child has some grandparents who are also able to offer their grandchildren a safe harbor plus help maintain their familial connections to other cousins, aunts and uncles?

If you know a grandparent, or another interested family member, who is currently experiencing a similar situation you should let them know that there are legal ways to obtain custody of their grandchildren under certain circumstances. A meeting with a legal professional specializing in family law would be a good first step in exploring those options.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Texas Child Kept Away From Drug-Using Parents" Jeff D. Gorman, May. 01, 2014

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