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In re N.S.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF N.S., Minor Child, B.P., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Stephen A. Owen, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights.

Melissa A. Nine of Kaplan, Frese & Nine, L.L.P., Marshalltown, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Jennifer Miller, County Attorney, and Luke B. Hansen, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Darrell G. Meyer, Marshalltown, for father.

Reyne L. See of Peglow, O'Hare & See, P.L.C., Marshalltown, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Eisenhauer, P.J. and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

TABOR, J.

Bonnie, the mother of two-year-old N.S., appeals a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. Bonnie argues the court did not follow notice procedures required in the state and federal Indian Child Welfare Acts (ICWA), and that termination was not in the child's best interest.

Because the district court properly determined N.S. was not an Indian child, the ICWA notice requirements were not violated in these proceedings. Bonnie continues to struggle with substance abuse and has made minimal progress toward reunification. Given the lack of a strong bond between N.S. and Bonnie, compared to the solid relationship N.S. has developed with her foster family, termination is in the child's best interest.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

N.S. was born with traces of THC[1] and opiates in her body. She was placed in foster care in October 2011, when she was nearly one year old. The juvenile court adjudicated N.S. as a child in need of assistance on January 5, 2012, based on concerns of her parents' drug use, mental health issues, criminal behavior, and domestic violence.

On February 14, 2012, the court entered a dispositional order recognizing the father's claim to be part Ute Indian, and that ICWA could potentially impact the case. The court ordered the State to notify the Ute tribes to determine whether ICWA applies.

During 2012, the Department of Human Services (DHS) provided services to both parents. Although Bonnie participated in supervised visits, because of the parents' continued struggles including substance abuse and domestic violence, N.S. remained in foster care. During a July 17, 2012 review hearing, DHS recommended providing an additional six months of services to reunify N.S. with her parents.

On October 3, 2012, the State filed its petition to terminate parental rights. The petition acknowledged N.S. "may be ...


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