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In re A.U.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 12, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.U. and J.U., Minor Children, H.O., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Butler County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

Brett H. Schilling of Schilling Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Greg Lievens, County Attorney, and Martin Petersen, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Elizabeth Biwer, Parkersburg, for father.

Michael Bandy, Waterloo, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

A mother appeals from the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to two children under section 232.116(1)(f) (2013). The mother contends (A) the State failed to make reasonable reunification efforts, (B) the State failed to prove statutory grounds for termination, (C) terminating her parental rights is not in the children's best interests, (D) statutory exceptions save the parent-child relationship, (E) the court should have established a guardianship of the children with the paternal grandparents rather than terminating her parental rights, and (F) she should be awarded more time to work toward reunification. We affirm.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

The mother has four children—A.U. (born 2003), J.U. (born 2004), Z.O. (born 2008), and J.H. (born 2012)—with three different biological fathers. The mother's parental rights to A.U. and J.U. are at issue in the present appeal.[1]

A.U. and J.U. have the same biological father, Jamie. At the time of the termination hearing, A.U. and J.U. lived with their paternal grandparents. The paternal grandparents are ready, willing, and able to adopt A.U. and J.U. pending the outcome of these proceedings.

Throughout most of this case the mother has been in a physically and verbally abusive relationship with her boyfriend, Nathan. Both the mother and Nathan have a history of drug abuse and criminal activity.

On February 27, 2012, police offers executed a search warrant at the mother's home to investigate evidence of a methamphetamine lab. At the time the mother was pregnant with Nathan's child, J.H. The children lived with their mother and Nathan in the mother's home. The mother's home had no running water, no beds for the children to sleep on, no working refrigerator, and minimal electricity. There were massive piles of trash everywhere. The children had ready access to dangerous chemicals, including muriatic acid, ether, camping fuel, lithium, pseudoephedrine, and pill grinders. The police located over 500 hypodermic needles, marijuana, and ...


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