Assigned on Briefs May 1, 2017
from the Juvenile Court for Madison County No. 55-50096
Christy R. Little, Judge
appeal arises from the termination of Mother's parental
rights. The child was removed from Mother's custody in
November 2013, when the child was twelve months old, after
Mother and the child tested positive for drugs. On the
petition of the Department of Children's Services, the
juvenile court adjudicated the child dependent and neglected
based on the finding that Mother committed severe child abuse
as defined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-102. In September
2014, DCS placed the child in the custody of Petitioners. One
year later, Petitioners filed a petition to terminate
Mother's parental rights. The juvenile court terminated
Mother's parental rights on the ground of severe child
abuse and the finding that termination of her rights was in
the child's best interest. Mother appealed. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Sparks, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kelsey K.
T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, James C. and
G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II, and Brandon O.
Gibson, JJ., joined.
G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S.
issue in this case are the parental rights of Kelsey K.
("Mother") to her minor child, Martese P., born
September 2013, Mother was arrested on felony drug charges.
In November 2013, on Martese's first birthday, Mother and
Martese submitted to a hair-follicle drug screen. The results
of this screen were positive for cocaine for both Mother and
the child. On November 18, 2013, the Department of
Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition
alleging that Martese was a dependent and neglected child and
seeking emergency removal of Martese from Mother's
custody. Thereafter, the juvenile court granted DCS temporary
custody of Martese pending an adjudicatory hearing.
dependency and neglect hearing was held on October 20, 2014.
Based on the evidence presented, the juvenile court declared
Martese dependent and neglected based on the finding that
Martese was a victim of severe child abuse, as defined in
Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-102, and placed Martese in DCS
custody. Mother appealed the juvenile court's finding
that she subjected Martese to severe child abuse. Following a
de novo hearing, the circuit court upheld the findings of the
August 2014, DCS placed Martese in the custody of James C.
and Sarah C. ("Petitioners"), where he has since
remained. On November 10, 2015, Petitioners filed a petition
to terminate the parental rights of Mother.
case was tried on August 9, 2016, during which the court
heard testimony from several witnesses, including
Petitioners, two DCS staff members, and Mother. Petitioners
also introduced numerous exhibits into evidence, including
the juvenile court's order finding Martese was a victim
of severe child abuse by Mother.
James C. testified that DCS placed Martese with him and his
wife Sarah C. in September of 2014. James stated that he is
gainfully employed and he and his wife are capable of
providing for Martese. He also testified that they had
developed a loving relationship with Martese and had taken
steps to advance his emotional and educational development,
such as taking Martese to see a therapist to treat his
learning deficiencies. He also explained that his mother, a
retired school teacher, was teaching Martese using the
Montessori method. James also stated that, although Mother
had sent some clothes and toys to Martese on a few occasions,
she had not provided any financial support to Martese while
he had been in Petitioners' custody.
C. reiterated much of her husband's testimony and also
stated that she had grown to love Martese as her own.
Additionally, she testified that Petitioners intended to
adopt Martese ...