5/1/2014 6:07:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - A couple caught having sex in a van littered with heroin needles as their unclothed child stood beside them cannot regain custody, a Texas appeals court ruled.
L.J.P. tested positive for methadone and amphetamine at her birth in 2011. The girl's mother admitted to having used heroin about a week before she went into labor. No names are given in the court record.
The Department of Family and Protective Services determined that the family home was dangerous and inappropriate, and the state initiated an emergency removal when L.J.P.'s parents failed to perform the family-based safety services. Texas had previously removed a boy from the mother's custody as well.
When the parents ran off with the girl, however, the department failed to locate them and it dismissed the case six months later.
One year after the couple absconded with L.J.P., a woman called the police to report having seen a woman staggering with a baby in a parking lot.
Officer Reymundo Tobar responded to the scene and found L.J.P. with her parents inside a van. The couple was naked and having sexual intercourse in the driver's seat. L.J.P., 18-months old, stood beside them wearing only a diaper, despite the fact that it was a cold, rainy night. An exposed needle was in the van "right where the child was standing," Tolar reported.
The syringe was determined to contain heroin. Bath salts and speed were also found in the van, along with 36 syringes.
L.J.P.'s mother was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, endangering a child and interference with child custody. She is scheduled to get out of prison in November.
The foster family caring for L.J.P.'s older brother took the girl in, and a judge in Midland County terminated both the mother and father's parental rights.
Only the mother appealed, but the 11th Court of Appeals ruled against her on April 3.
"The record shows that Appellant had engaged in a course of conduct that endangered L.J.P., that Appellant had not demonstrated an ability to meet L.J.P.'s needs, that L.J.P. was doing well in her current placement, that the current placement was stable, and that the circumstances in this case were 'pretty severe,'" Justice John Bailey wrote for a three-member panel in Eastland.