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In the Interest of D.M.

April 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF D.M., MINOR CHILD, M.M., MOTHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Randy S. DeGeest, District Associate Judge.

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

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

AFFIRMED.

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

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. She contends the juvenile court erred in terminating her parental rights based on her mental disability, arguing she should have been offered additional services to reunify her and the child. She also contends termination is not in the child's best interests.

The mother failed to request any additional services prior to the termination of her parental rights. Because her mental disability impedes her ability to provide this special-needs child with the level of care necessary to meet the child's basic needs, we affirm the termination of the mother's parental rights.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

The child was removed from the mother's care in December of 2011, at four months of age, and was adjudicated to be a child in need of assistance (CINA). The child was born with a medical condition, that requires an extremely high level of monitoring in order to survive. The mother, who has borderline intellectual functioning, was not able to provide the necessary level of care for the child's medical condition, putting the child's health in jeopardy. The mother also had her parental rights to another child terminated.

Services were offered to assist the mother. In spite of receipt of these services, concerns persisted about the mother's ability to safely parent the child. The State filed a petition seeking to terminate the mother's parental rights, and a hearing was held in January 2013.

At the time of the termination hearing, the mother was unemployed and living with the maternal grandmother. The mother did not have a driver's license or a vehicle, impeding her ability to transport the child to the hospital when emergency medical care is necessary. The mother also failed to complete an education course regarding the child's future medical needs. She was inconsistent in attending visitations with the child, missing more than half of the offered visits between July 2012 and the time of termination. The Department of Human Services worker testified at the termination hearing that the child could not be safely returned to the mother's care, and that was unlikely to change.

On January 24, 2013, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code sections 232.116(1)(g) and (h) (2011). The court found that although the mother was appropriately bonded with the child, termination was in the child's best interests.

II. Scope and Standard of Review.

We review termination of parental rights proceedings de novo. In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d 458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). While we are not bound by the juvenile court's fact-findings, we do give them weight, especially when assessing witness credibility. Id.

We will uphold a termination order if clear and convincing evidence supports the grounds for termination under section 232.116. Id. Evidence is considered "clear and convincing" when there are no "serious or substantial doubts as to the ...


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