IN THE INTEREST OF A. F. et al., CHILDREN.
BARNES, P. J., ELLINGTON, P.J., and MCMILLIAN, J.
BARNES, PRESIDING JUDGE.
mother of A. L. C. B. F. ("A. F."), C. M. J. F.
("C. F."), and A. K. W. F., appeals from the order
of the trial court terminating her parental
rights. On appeal, she contends that the evidence
was insufficient to support the termination. Upon our review,
and finding insufficient evidence demonstrating that
continued dependency will cause or is likely to cause the
children serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm,
On appeal from an order terminating parental rights, we
review the evidence in the light most favorable to the
juvenile court's judgment in order to determine whether
any rational trier of fact could have found by clear and
convincing evidence that the natural parent's rights to
custody have been lost. We neither weigh evidence nor
determine witness credibility, but defer to the juvenile
court's findings of fact and affirm unless the appellate
standard is not met.
(Citation and punctuation omitted). In re U. G., 291
Ga.App. 404, 404 (662 S.E.2d 190) (2008).
viewed, the evidence demonstrates that, at the time of the
termination hearing, A. L. C. B. F. was four-and-a-half years
old; C. M. J. F. was three-and-a-half years old, and A. K. W.
F. was one-and-a-half years old. Andrew Walker is the
biological father of A. K. W. F. The location of A. L. C. B.
F. and C. M. J. F.'s putative biological father is
unknown, and the legal father, the mother's husband, by
request, was excused from the proceedings.
9, 2015, upon the filing of a complaint alleging dependency,
and the entry of a dependancy removal order, A. L. C. B. F.
and C. M. J. F. were taken into the custody of the Whitfield
County Division of Family and Children Services
("DFCS") On June 10, 2015, the trial court entered
a preliminary protective order placing temporary custody of
the two children with DFACS. According to the order, there
was probable cause to believe that the children were
dependant because the mother was unemployed, did not have a
stable environment for the children, and there was a history
of domestic violence, including a recent physical altercation
between the mother and her current boyfriend during which she
had threatened to "harm herself with a razor."
Thereafter, on June 15, 2015, DFACS filed a petition of
dependency alleging that the two children were dependent
because the "children have been abused or neglected and
are in need of protection of the court" given the
mother's unemployment, lack of stable home environment
and violent relationship with Walker, the father of her
the juvenile court entered an order of dependency as to the
two children. According to that order, the children were
dependant "due to being homeless, and without food,
clothing and shelter." The order noted the mother's
frequent moves and that she had been staying week-to-week in
different motels; at one point, there was no food in her
residence; and she was seen searching through trash cans for
food at a gas station. The order also noted the mother's
history of abusive relationships with men and the children
witnessing the abuse.
mother's ensuing reunification case plan required, among
other things, that she maintain stable housing for six
consecutive months, maintain visitation with the children,
pay child support, participate in parenting classes, comply
with random drug screenings, and comply with psychological
referral for parental fitness and domestic violence
assessments. After a case plan judicial review and permanency
planning hearing, on September 9, 2015 the trial court
entered an order detailing the mother's progress,
including that, although she was still unemployed, she was
visiting the children, had enrolled in parenting classes, and
had all negative drug screenings. At the time, the mother was
living with Walker at his grandmother's house.
March 2, 2016 permanency hearing, the trial court found that
the mother had completed her psychological evaluation and
continued to have clean drug screenings. She was also
working, had housing and was paying child support. A. K. W.
F., who was born on November 30, 2015, was living with the
mother, and the mother was allowed limited, but unsupervised
visitation with A. F. and C. F. However, the trial court
found that before the children could be reunited with the
mother, additional elements of the case plan needed to be
completed, including mental health treatment.
March 30, 2016, the mother visited DFACS and reported that
the previous night, she and Walker had an altercation and she
was "fearful for her safety." She said that Walker
"hit her frequently," and was advised to get a
Temporary Protective Order ("TPO") to have Walker
removed from the lease. DFACS scheduled an appointment for
the mother to meet with the District Attorney's office to
take out the TPO, but she did not show up. However, Walker
was arrested and charged with family violence, and his
probation was revoked. On May 25, 2016, after Walker was
released from jail and discovered hiding in the mother's
home, A. K. W. F. was taken into DFACS custody.
trial court's order after a subsequent August 8, 2016
permanency hearing revealed that, although the mother had
achieved certain of her case plan goals, her housing was
uncertain because she lived in a mobile home that was leased
to Walker. The trial court "strongly cautioned" the
mother about continued contact with Walker because of their
"domestic violence issues." The mother had been
referred for mental health treatments, and had participated
in vocational rehabilitation and applied for Social Security
January 9, 2017, DFCS filed a petition to terminate the
mother's parental rights, alleging that termination was
in the children's best interest because she: could not
maintain stable housing, employment, or transportation; had a
history of abusive relationships and did not protect the
children from the effects of the abuse; and was
intellectually and emotionally incapable of safely parenting
on the termination petition was held on April 10, 2017 and
April 20, 2017. A case manager with DFACS testified that the
mother had a long history of instability with housing, income
and relationships, and that her involvement with DFACS
started in February 2013. At that time, DFACS received a
report that the mother was living with A. F. in an abandoned
house in Columbus, Georgia, and a family support case was
opened the next month because the mother was homeless. DFACS
received a report in August 2013 that the family was homeless
and that the mother was observed striking one of her children
while in a hospital emergency room. In February ...