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In the Interest of T.L.

January 9, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF T.L., T.L., AND T.L., MINOR CHILDREN, T.L., GRANDMOTHER, APPELLANT, S.L., MOTHER. APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Carol S. Egly, District Associate Judge.

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

A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights. Additionally, both the mother and maternal grandmother appeal from the juvenile court's denial of placement of two of the children with the grandmother. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights. Additionally, both the mother and maternal grandmother appeal from the juvenile court's denial of placement of two of the children with the grandmother. Upon our de novo review, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

S.L. is the biological mother of three children. The oldest child was born in 1999, and the two youngest children, twins, were born in 2008. The twins were born prematurely and both have had developmental delays.

Around the time of the twins' birth, the mother and the oldest child lived with the children's maternal grandmother at her home in Illinois. In early 2010, the mother moved with the children to Des Moines, where the children's maternal grandfather lived. The mother did not tell the grandmother or the grandfather of her moving plans.

Shortly thereafter, the family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (Department) because the mother left the children home alone on at least two occasions, leaving the twins in the care of the oldest child, then ten-years old. The mother initially minimized the dangers to the children of being left alone. It was also learned the mother had not enrolled the oldest child in school after moving. The Department ultimately confirmed the child abuse reports of denial of critical care, and a safety plan was initiated. Services were offered to the family, and a service provider began working with the family.

This case remained open for year with a variety of ongoing problems before court involvement. The mother was arrested several times for shoplifting, and she was in and out of jail during that time. She was assaulted at her apartment by the father of the twins. In October 2010, the mother and children moved into a shelter, and the family remained there until February 2011, when the mother obtained housing.

In March 2011, the Department was notified the mother had been arrested when she showed up for an appointment with her probation officer intoxicated with the twins in tow. The mother was said to be over three times the legal limit. The mother reported to her probation officer that she was drinking beer and wine in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings, but the mother did not believe she had any alcohol issues. The children were removed from the mother's care and placed in the care of their maternal grandfather. The mother was released from jail about a week later.

Shortly thereafter, the State filed its petition asserting the children were children in need of assistance (CINA). The children were adjudicated CINA in April, and they continued to be placed in the care of their maternal grandfather. A safety plan was established and concerns were noted at that time of the mother's drinking, her incarcerations, and her follow-up with medical care for the twins.

In June, the grandfather asked that the children be removed from his care, and the children were placed in foster care. The mother and the children's maternal grandmother requested the children be placed in the grandmother's care in her home in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. A home study was conducted via the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, and the grandmother's home was approved for placement; however, the mother continued to work towards reunification with the children in Des Moines at that time.

Although the mother began to get involved in services, she struggled with consistency. The mother missed some appointments and therapy sessions. Additionally, the mother was not complying with her probation officer's expectations that she find a job and provide samples for urinalysis testing. The mother was then placed in the Women's Facility to ensure her follow-through with her probation officer's expectations.

In July 2011, the mother requested her oldest child be sent to live with the grandmother and that the twins live with her at the facility. A permanency hearing was held in August, and the parties agreed the oldest child should be placed in the maternal grandmother's care, due to his relationship and bond with the grandmother and his mother's family living in Illinois. However, the parties were not in agreement as to placement of the twins with the grandmother. At the hearing, the mother requested additional time for reunification, and permanency was continued for four months. The twins remained in the care of the foster family in Iowa to facilitate the mother's reunification with the children.

Nevertheless, the mother failed to progress. In November, she was back in jail for a probation violation, and she stopped addressing her alcohol and mental health issues. Additionally, she made no request that the twins be placed with the grandmother. The mother was given the opportunity to be placed back in the Women's Facility to keep trying to find employment and to have visits with the twins a few times per week, but the mother opted to serve a longer jail sentence and be discharged from probation. Since her release from jail, the mother felt because she served her time things should revert back to the way they were. ...


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