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In re R.G.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF R.G., Minor Child, S.G., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Constance Cohen, Associate Juvenile Judge.

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

Bryan Webber of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Stephanie Brown, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Kimberly Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. She contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and that termination is not in the child's best interests. She also contends the juvenile court erred in failing to apply the provisions of Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(c) (2013) because termination would be detrimental to the child.

Upon our de novo review, we find the grounds for termination under section 232.116(1)(d) have been proved by clear and convincing evidence. We also find termination is in the child's best interests. Because preserving the strength of the parent-child bond does not outweigh the harm that would visit the child if the parent-child relationship were preserved, the provisions of section 232.116(1)(c) are not applicable. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of the mother's parental rights.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

The child was born in February 2008 to a mother with a lengthy substance abuse history. The mother began abusing drugs when she was fifteen years old, using marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy. She was twenty-nine years old at the time of the termination of her parental rights. The longest period of sobriety the mother has maintained is seven consecutive months.

The child first came to the attention of the department of human services (DHS) after the mother exposed the child to the supervision of a registered sex offender. On November 16, 2011, the child was removed from the mother's care after the mother tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana. The child also tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine. The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance the following month.

The mother was offered services to address her substance abuse issues. The mother completed inpatient substance abuse treatment but relapsed. She agreed to return to inpatient treatment but failed to do so before entering the House of Mercy residential recovery program on April 26, 2012. For six months, the mother maintained her sobriety while at the House of Mercy, and the child was returned to her care at the end of October 2012. Approximately one week later, the mother relapsed by using methamphetamine. Although service providers and House of Mercy staff worked to get the mother back on track, she continued to struggle. She had another relapse at the end of December 2012 and did not admit she had relapsed until she tested positive on a December 28, 2012 drug screen.

Due to the mother's relapse, the child was removed from her care on January 4, 2013. Although she was advised to remain at the House of Mercy and to continue to get treatment, the mother chose to leave. She engaged in a two-week drug binge. The mother claims that she has since remained sober. A February 22, 2013 substance abuse evaluation recommended residential treatment followed by placement in a halfway house. Unable to ...


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