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In the Interest of L.V.

January 9, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF L.V., MINOR CHILD, K.G., MOTHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Stephen A. Owens, District Associate Judge.

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

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

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

A mother appeals from a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. The mother alleges error on (1) the failure of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to make reasonable reunification efforts, (2) the State's failure to present clear and convincing evidence that the child could not be returned to the mother's custody, (3) the court's refusal to grant additional time, and (4) the court's finding that termination was in the child's best interest. We affirm.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

L.V. was born in July 2007. L.V.'s mother struggles with substance abuse issues including the use of methamphetamine spanning the course of a decade.

L.V.'s father was incarcerated throughout much of these proceedings.

In January 2011, this case first came to DHS's attention on a report that the mother was caring for L.V. while using methamphetamine. The mother initially agreed to provide a drug screen. Three days after the initial agreement, the mother refused to provide a hair stat test and had trimmed the hair on the back of her head to less than an inch in length. At that time, she admitted to smoking marijuana and stated she "could have been around people that were using methamphetamine." The mother voluntarily signed a safety plan. The safety plan placed L.V. with the child's aunt and uncle, with whom L.V. had been living for the past three months.

The State filed a child in need of assistance petition on June 16, 2011. The juvenile court held a contested adjudication hearing on August 23, 2011. Despite having notice of the hearing, the mother did not appear. The court adjudicated L.V. a child in need of assistance under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2011).

In October 2011, the mother had her first substance abuse evaluation. She tested positive for methamphetamine. In January 2012, the mother had her second substance abuse evaluation. She admitted to continued drug use. The substance abuse evaluation recommended an in-patient drug treatment program. After DHS made repeated attempts to secure treatment for the mother, she finally agreed to enter an in-patient treatment program in April 2012. After only two days in the program, the mother left against medical advice. Two days after leaving the program, the mother tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine. In May 2012, the mother tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and opiates.

The mother failed to provide drug screens on June 25, July 2, July 11, and July 21, 2012. The mother later testified that she refused drug tests utilizing the patch or hair stat method because such methods were inaccurate. She testified, "[S]omeone could actually bump into you and they have particles of methamphetamine on them and it can come into your system." In August 2012, DHS switched to urine analysis drug testing at the mother's request. She then failed to provide urinalysis tests on August 13, August 18, August 20, September 1, September 5, and September 17, 2012.

The mother was diagnosed as bipolar with a borderline personality disorder. The mother disputes these diagnoses, and refuses to manage the administration of prescription drug medication to treat these disorders Throughout the pendency of these proceedings, the mother lived with various friends and family members. In the six months leading up to the termination hearing, the mother had three different residences. She currently lives with her mother and grandmother.

On October 1, 2012, the juvenile court held contested termination of parental rights proceedings. In its well-reasoned decision, the juvenile court found,

Despite the substantial support for reunification provided by the State, the mother never made even minimal progress towards reunification with the ...


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