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In the Interest of A.J.

March 27, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.J., MINOR CHILD, D.D., MOTHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Annette Boehlje, District Associate Judge.

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

A mother appeals from the order providing for visitation between half siblings. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

A mother appeals from the juvenile court order requiring visitation between half siblings. She contends the court (1) lacked jurisdiction over the two half siblings who had not been adjudicated children in need of assistance, (2) violated "the common law and fundamental liberty interests" of the parents in regard to their children, (3) erred in determining the child has a right to sibling visitation,

(4) erred in finding visitation was in the child's best interest, (5) erred in finding forced visitation with the child was in the best interest of the two half siblings,

(6) erred in not finding there was good cause for termination of the mother's parental rights to the child, (7) erred in denying her request to reopen the record to admit an affidavit, (8) erred in not requiring the State or guardian ad litem to file a petition for visitation or otherwise specify what relief would be sought, and

(9) made findings of fact not supported by the record. We affirm.

I. Background

In the year prior to the mother requesting the State's involvement with this child, the mother and stepfather*fn1 placed the child with Francis Lauer Youth Services for two and a half months and in Bremwood Residential Treatment Center for an additional six and a half months. The child, who is diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, hypothyroidism, and growth hormone deficiency, also participated in behavioral health intervention services for several months. In July 2012 the State filed a petition to have the child found to be a child in need of assistance under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(k) (parent "for good cause desires to be relieved of the child's care and custody") and (l) (child "for good cause desires to have the child's parents relieved of the child's care and custody") (2011). The mother requested the child be placed in foster care and also requested her parental rights be terminated. She also filed a written consent to termination of her parental rights. The court adjudicated the child in need of assistance in August.

Following a dispositional hearing in late September, the court found the child was doing well in foster care but could not be returned to the home of the mother or father. The court continued the child's placement in foster care and ordered participation in services. A review hearing was scheduled for January 2013. Prior to the review hearing, the State filed a report to the court recommending the child continue in foster care and the county attorney file a petition to terminate the mother's and father's parental rights.

At the January review hearing, the court reviewed the dispositional order and considered the request from the child and the State for visitation between the child and the two half siblings. The court then issued two orders. The review order confirmed the child was in need of assistance and continued her placement in family foster care. The court found the mother had refused to participate in services to reunite with her daughter. In a separate order the court concluded it had jurisdiction and provided for monthly supervised visitation between the child and the two younger half siblings for at least two hours. The visits are to be supervised by the department of human services, the child's therapist, the foster parents, the child's grandmother, or the mother and stepfather. The mother and stepfather are also authorized to attend any visits if they wish. The mother filed a motion to reconsider, asserting the court did not address her contention the court lacked jurisdiction over the two children who had not been adjudicated children in need of assistance. The court denied the motion. The mother appeals.

II. Scope of Review

Our review is de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; In re D.D., 653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). We review both the facts and the law and adjudicate rights anew as to those issues properly preserved and presented. In re D.L., 401 N.W.2d 201, 202 (Iowa Ct. App. 1986). We accord considerable weight to the findings of the juvenile court, especially concerning the credibility ...


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