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In re P.K.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF P.K., Minor Child, M.B., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary P. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

Mark J. Neary, Muscatine, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Alan Ostergren, County Attorney, and Oubonh P. White, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Joan Black, Iowa City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

MULLINS, J.

A mother appeals from a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to her child, P.K., under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2013). The mother contends clear and convincing evidence did not support the statutory grounds for termination, and the juvenile court erred in refusing to allow an additional six months to work toward reunification. We affirm.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

When the mother was fifteen years old she gave birth to P.K. (born March 2012). After learning she was pregnant du, ring her sophomore year of high school, the mother dropped out of school and never returned. Paternity testing excluded the putative father as the child's biological father, and the identity of P.K.'s father remains unknown.

Before learning she was pregnant, the mother had been adjudicated as a child in need of assistance. In the mother's child-in-need-of-assistance case, she refused recommended substance abuse treatment. The mother admits to having ongoing anger issues. In addition, she is on medication for mental health issues and has been diagnosed with "ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, bi-polar disorder, multi-personality disorder, anxiety, depression, and anti-social behaviors."

In July 2012, this case came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) when the mother engaged in a physical altercation with her grandfather. The grandfather reportedly broke the mother's nose during the altercation. At the time of the altercation P.K. was only a few feet away. A few days later the mother assaulted her sister, P.K.'s aunt. During the assault the mother punched the sister in the face repeatedly while the sister was holding P.K. The DHS then received a report that the mother had been sexually abused by her grandfather. The DHS also received reports that the mother angered quickly and coped with parenting P.K. by screaming at P.K. The DHS attempted to investigate the reports. In a meeting with a DHS worker and a local sheriff's deputy, the mother became upset and screamed obscenities at the DHS worker and the deputy. The State then filed a petition for temporary, emergency removal. The juvenile court subsequently ordered removal. P.K. was then placed in family foster care.

Later in August 2012, the State filed a petition to adjudicate P.K. as a child in need of assistance. The court found that P.K. had suffered or was likely to suffer harm from the mother's failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care in supervising the child. The court adjudicated P.K. as a child in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2011).

In November 2012, the juvenile court held a contested dispositional hearing. The court ordered the mother to complete a psychological evaluation. The court also adopted the DHS case plan, ordering the mother to undergo medication management, comply with substance abuse ...


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