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In the Interest of J.A.

December 12, 2012


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Mary L. Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Danilson, J.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

Cameo, the mother of the three children at issue here; and Andres, the mother's paramour and the putative father of the younger two children; appeal from the termination of their parental rights. Because statutory grounds for termination exist, termination is in the best interests of these children, and no mitigating factor weighs against termination, we affirm the parental rights of Cameo and Andres.

I. Background.

Cameo has had six children: the oldest (P.J.) was adopted by Cameo's mother; the second child died as a result of the mother's neglect; the mother's rights to her third child were involuntarily terminated in 2003; the fourth child, Marvin, was born in 2003, and has twice previously been adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) due to Cameo's drug abuse, neglect, and instability; the fifth child, Mercedes, born in 2007, has previously been under juvenile court jurisdiction-that jurisdiction was dismissed on September 2, 2008; and the sixth child, Jasmine, was born in 2009. These termination proceedings concern Marvin, Mercedes, and Jasmine.

The juvenile court described the current court involvement with the family as having begun in October 2011 when police officers responded to a disturbance at the residence of Cameo's mother, Beverly. Cameo, Andres, the three children, Cameo's brother, and Cameo's sister (P.J., Cameo's biological daughter) were residing in this home while Beverly was hospitalized.

The home was found to be infested with flies, it appeared that cats had been urinating on the steps, the ammonia smell was very intense, there were numerous items on the floor, including old food and a dirty plate and there was garbage throughout the residence.

Both Jasmine and Mercedes were filthy and they were in clothes that appeared to have not been washed for quite some time. The [responding] police officers described the conditions as unsanitary and indicated a report would be made to housing authorities. It was also reported that Marvin had been locked outside the home with no shirt on. Cameo and Andres were sleeping and not supervising the children. During the investigation, Cameo did admit that they have been living in poverty conditions, but that she was working on cleaning up their property and house. Cameo further admitted that the family has moved approximately 13 times in the previous 10 months due to their inability to pay bills or inadequate housing.

On October 11, 2011, Cameo reported that Marvin had chased her around the front yard with a shovel attempting to hit her, struck his four-year-old sister with a steel pipe leaving a small bruise on her back and strangled his two-year-old sister. Marvin was hospitalized for further evaluations and for the protection of the family.

On October 18, 2011, Cameo reported she was entering inpatient substance abuse treatment due to her recent use of methamphetamine. She left the inpatient facility without completing treatment.

A CINA petition was filed on November 2, 2011, due to Marvin's unresolved mental health issues, Cameo's use of methamphetamine, unhealthy living conditions of the family home, possible homelessness as the family was likely to be evicted, and parental instability. Both Cameo and Andres submitted to drug testing and both tested positive for amphetamine/methamphetamine. The adjudicatory hearing was scheduled for December 2, 2011.

On November 29, 2011, [local] police officers were called to the family residence due to Cameo reportedly being in a drug-induced state, not knowing her name, age, or her children, behaving erratically, and sometimes violently. Cameo was "tweaking" on methamphetamine with her 13-year-old sister, [P.J.].

The conditions of the residence were also reported to be unhealthy despite just recently moving in. At the time the police and fire fighters arrived, a Hispanic male ran from the apartment and did not return until after police had Cameo under control. Cameo was taken to St. Luke's emergency room and the children were taken to [Beverly's home. Due to Beverly being in poor health, Cameo's sister retrieved the children. Cameo later admitted to using methamphetamine. Andres also has a history of using methamphetamine. On November 30, 2011, an ex parte removal order was executed removing Jasmine and Mercedes from parental custody. Marvin was [still hospitalized].

The ex parte removal was confirmed following a December 2, 2011. The adjudicatory hearing was continued, however, and the children ...

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