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In the Interest of V.B.

April 24, 2013


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

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

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

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

J.S. is the mother of three children: V.B., born in 2005; G.S., born in 2006; and B.S., born in 2008. The father of V.B. consented to the termination of his parental rights and he is not involved in this appeal. All three children are currently placed with A.S.-the father of G.S. and B.S., and V.B.'s former stepfather-who wishes to offer a permanent home to all three children. J.S. appeals the termination of her parental rights. Statutory grounds for termination exist, termination is in the children's best interests, and no exception precludes termination. We therefore affirm.

I. Background Facts.

The children came to the attention of the department of human services (DHS) in June 2011, after the police found them residing in a "meth house," where J.S. was temporarily residing with the children and V.B.'s biological father, Troy. John B., the occupant of the residence, acknowledged using and manufacturing methamphetamine. He also reported J.S. and Troy left the children in his care on more than one occasion over the time period they were staying with him, and that Troy used methamphetamine while there. The mother acknowledged to police she suspected that methamphetamine was being made at the residence. All three children tested positive for methamphetamine. The children were removed from J.S. and placed with the maternal grandmother.

The children were adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA) in September 2011. The mother stipulated the children were CINA pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(c)(2) (2011) (child who has suffered or is imminently likely to suffer harmful effects as a result of the failure of the parent to exercise reasonable care in supervising child). The court found the children had "significant delays and health concerns" and the mother "has a history of instability and clearly has left these children on multiple occasions with persons who are inappropriate and unsafe." The court further found the children had been exposed to drug use, drug manufacturing, and domestic violence. The children remained in the home of their maternal grandmother.

A dispositional order was entered on November 3, 2011. The court found the mother had not started individual therapy as recommended, and was not taking advantage of additional visitation offered to her.

A review hearing was held on March 8, 2012, and a review order was filed on May 25. The court confirmed the children remained CINA. A.S. had requested the children be placed with him. However, he was then living in Wyoming and the court found placement with him was not in the children's best interest because it would hinder the stated goal of reunification with the mother. A.S. continued to cooperate with services and expressed plans to relocate to Iowa after completing his schooling. The court found the mother "has struggled to consistently participate in recommended services including drug treatment and contact with the children's therapist." The court noted the mother's unresolved substance abuse and domestic violence issues.

Notes from an April 27, 2012 family team meeting indicate J.S. was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depressed mood and prescribed medications. It was also noted that J.S. "admits she is addicted to alcohol" and "is taking responsibility for her addiction and realizes she wasn't able to be the parent she wants to be and is now working hard to get her children back." A.S. was talking to the children weekly via video service and attending unsupervised visits monthly. He had found housing in the area and planned to move with his fiancee as soon as he graduated in June. It was the stated goal that all three children would be placed with A.S. and his fiancee by June.

On May 1, 2012, A.S. filed a motion for concurrent jurisdiction.

On May 18, 2012, DHS submitted an addendum report in which the social worker Marie Muench reported:

Since the last Court hearing [J.S.] has lost her job and regained employment. [J.S.] has had in the past year numerous jobs. [J.S.] shows the ability to gain employment, however, she has not shown the ability to maintain this employment.

Since the last Court hearing [J.S.] has moved from one family member's home to another. [J.S.] still struggles with maintaining suitable housing for her and the children. It would appear that since [J.S.]'s return to Iowa over the past year and a half to two years she is unable to maintain suitable housing and it is a pattern for her to move numerous times.

. . . . . . . [A.S.] has made plans to move back to the State of Iowa to gain care and custody of not only his children [G.S.] and [B.S.], but [V.B.]

ICPC home study was completed for [A.S.] This home study was approved. This worker has notified parties that this has been approved.

This worker believes that the children desire permanency in their lives and should not have to continue to live in disarray. Even though they are being well cared for in the home of their maternal grandmother . . . they have a willing and able parent available soon in the State of Iowa.

This worker does not believe it necessary to terminate [J.S.'s] parental rights if the children are allowed to gain ...

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