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In the Interest of Z.F.

April 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF Z.F., MINOR CHILD, L.M.F., MOTHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.

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

A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Tabor, J., and Mahan, S.J.*fn1

I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

Lacey and Arthur are the parents of a child who was born in 2011.*fn2 Lacey has a long history of mental health problems. She threatened to commit suicide. She also placed a blanket over the child's head because the child was crying and stated she could not take it anymore. On August 25, 2011, Lacey consented to having the child removed from her care and placed with a maternal great-grandmother.

The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code sections 232.2(6)(b), (c)(2), and (n) (2011). The maternal great-grandmother did not want to be considered as a long-term placement, and in October 2011, the child was placed in foster care. Lacey struggled to consistently comply with services. She continued to demonstrate an explosive temper.

In October 2011, the child was diagnosed with a serious health condition. Lacey denied the diagnosis and became very disruptive in the doctor's office. After several visits where Lacey had emotional outbursts, in January 2012 the child's physician told her she could not longer attend doctor's appointments at the clinic. The physician wrote this statement in February 2012:

Because of our past interactions with Lacey during office visits and her attitude toward personnel in the [ ] clinic, it raises serious doubt in my mind about Lacey's volatility and mental stability. I question whether Lacey will be able to provide the proper and necessary daily care as well as medical care and stability this baby needs to thrive.

On April 28, 2012, the guardian ad litem filed a petition seeking to terminate the parents' rights. After a hearing, the juvenile court terminated Lacey's rights pursuant to sections 232.116(1)(d) and (h). The court found the mother had unresolved mental health issues and had not engaged in individual therapy. The court noted that during the hearing Lacey became overly agitated and emotional. The court also found she had numerous issues to still address in addition to her mental health problems. The court concluded termination of Lacey's parental rights was in the child's best interests. Lacey appeals the decision of the juvenile court.

II. Standard of Review.

The scope of review in termination cases is de novo. In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). Clear and convincing evidence is needed to establish the grounds for termination. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006). Where there is clear and convincing evidence, there is no serious or substantial doubt about the correctness of the conclusion drawn from the evidence. In re D.D., 653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). "The paramount concern in termination proceedings is the best interest of the child." In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d 458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011).

III. Sufficiency of the Evidence.

Lacey claims the juvenile court improperly terminated her parental rights pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h). We first note Lacey does not challenge the termination of her parental rights pursuant to section 232.116(1)(d). "When the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we need only find grounds to terminate under one of the sections cited by the juvenile court to affirm." In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999). We may therefore conclude the juvenile court properly terminated Lacey's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(d).

If we were to address the termination of Lacey's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(h), we would find there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support termination on this ground as well. On appeal, Lacey does not claim the child could have been returned to her care at the time of the termination hearing, but asks for additional time to resume care of her child. The evidence showed Lacey made very limited, if any, progress during the time the juvenile court was involved. We agree with the ...


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