Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mullins, J.
A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to eight children. AFFIRMED.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to eight children. She contends clear and convincing evidence does not support the grounds for termination, termination is not in the children's best interest, and the strength of the parent-child bond weighs against termination. We affirm.
I. Background Facts & Proceedings
The mother's parental rights to eight children are at issue in this appeal- T.G. (born 1999), T.G. (born 2004), N.G. (born 2005), K.G. (born 2006), K.G. (born 2007), H.G. (born 2009), D.G. (born 2010), and J.G. (born 2011). The fathers of the children provided virtually no support, financial or otherwise, to the mother in raising the eight children. The fathers do not appeal the termination of their parental rights.
The mother has a long history with the Department of Human Services (DHS). In 2001, DHS filed a confirmed child protective assessment against the mother for denial of critical care. The mother could not recall this incident at the subsequent termination proceedings. In 2002, the mother allowed two children under her care to wander around outside an apartment complex unsupervised for several hours. DHS investigated the incident and filed a confirmed child protective assessment against the mother for denial of critical care.
In 2004, DHS investigated reports the mother was intoxicated while providing care for the children and was involved in an incidence of domestic violence with the children present. During the course of the DHS investigation, law enforcement authorities contacted DHS after the mother was stabbed during a separate altercation. At the time of the stabbing, the mother was pregnant, intoxicated, and reportedly holding one of her children. As a result DHS filed a founded child protective assessment against the mother for denial of critical care. After the incident T.G. and T.G. were temporarily removed from the mother's care and placed with the children's maternal grandmother. DHS later returned the children to the mother.
In 2010, DHS investigated reports that the mother left her oldest child- approximately ten years old at the time-with the responsibility of serving as the sole caretaker for the six younger children including an autistic child with special needs. DHS confirmed the reports and filed a founded child protective assessment against the mother for denial of critical care.
In March 2011, the mother left the children with a babysitter at neighboring apartment. After the mother left, the neighbor realized one of the seven children was missing.*fn1 The neighbor contacted the mother's apartment manager to search the mother's apartment for the missing child. The apartment manager found the eight-month-old child, D.G., in the mother's apartment unattended. The mother later admitted to forgetting about the child. As a result, DHS filed a founded child protective assessment against the mother for denial of critical care and failure to provide proper supervision.
In April 2011, the juvenile court granted the State's petition for removal and placed T.G., T.G., N.G., K.G., K.G., H.G., and D.G. with their maternal aunt. The mother consented to removal. In early May 2011, the court adjudicated the children as children in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.6(c)(2) and (n) (2011). At some point the juvenile court became aware the mother was pregnant with an eighth child, J.G.
In mid-May 2011, the mother ceased contact with DHS and other service providers. At the end of May 2011 the mother gave birth to J.G. In the interim the mother missed several visits with the other children and was not cooperative in notifying DHS about the birth or location of J.G. In June 2011, the mother stipulated to J.G.'s removal.
In July 2011, the juvenile court adjudicated J.G. as a child in need of assistance pursuant to section 232.6(c)(2) and (n). The mother did not contest adjudication. The juvenile court also held a dispositional hearing for the other seven children. The court confirmed the children as children in need of assistance. The court then ordered the seven children be removed from the maternal aunt's home and placed into foster care. The mother was not attending individual therapy and had not complied with the court's order to participate in adult services. Visits at that time were with all eight children. Providers noted the mother had difficulty supervising the children.
In September 2011, the mother moved for unsupervised visitation with all eight children. The juvenile court held a hearing on the mother's motion in November 2011. The juvenile court found DHS and other service providers had gone to great lengths to provide visitation and parenting skills development for the mother. Despite those efforts the juvenile court found the mother was not able to properly ...