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In re R.N.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF R.N., Minor Child, P.H., Mother, Appellant, W.N., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van Marel, District Associate Judge.

A mother and father appeal from the order terminating their parental rights.

Robyn Huss of Thornton, Coy & Huss, P.L.L.C., Ames, for appellant mother.

Duane Huffer of Huffer Law, P.L.C., Story City, for appellant father.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Stephen Holmes, County Attorney, and Tiffany Meredith, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Matthew Mauk, Ames, for minor child.

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

EISENHAUER, C.J.

A mother and father appeal from the juvenile court order terminating their parental rights. The mother contends the court erred when it concluded the child could not be returned to her care and when it failed to find termination would be detrimental to the child because of the closeness of the parent-child bond. The father contends the court erred in its ruling on his motion concerning service of process and the State failed to make reasonable efforts to place the child with him. We affirm on both appeals.

After an incident of domestic violence in 2009, the father moved to Indiana and a no-contact order was entered preventing contact with the mother or child. The child, born in 2008, was adjudicated a child in need of assistance under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2011) in April 2011 following four founded child abuse investigations, including three where the child was present during domestic violence in the home and one where the mother was using marijuana. Following the mother's arrests for alcohol-related offenses and concerns about the mother's mental health, the child was removed from the mother's care in December 2011 and placed with the maternal grandparents.

In June 2012 the State petitioned to terminate parental rights, seeking termination of both parents' rights under section 232.116(1)(a), (b), and (h). Following a hearing in July, the court denied the petition, and the State appealed. This court upheld the juvenile court. See In re R.N., No. 12-1476, 2012 WL 5356139, at *5 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 31, 2012).

The State continued to provide services to the mother and allowed both the father and mother to exercise supervised visitation. The mother cooperated only with services she agreed with. The father's visit in November 2012 ended after fifteen minutes because the child was crying uncontrollably and clinging to the worker supervising the visit.

A review hearing was held in January 2013. The court ordered the mother to continue participating in family-centered services, to submit random drug screens, to participate in mental health counseling and follow all recommendations, to participate in family counseling, and to complete an attachment assessment and follow all recommendations. The court provided the father could continue visits with the child at the discretion of the department of human services. Because the maternal grandparents indicated they were not a long-term or adoptive placement option for the child, the department sought and the court ordered the child placed in foster care.

In late January the State petitioned to terminate both parents' parental rights under section 232.116(1)(a), (b), and (f) (2013). The petition came on for hearing in April. The court noted the mother had missed at least twenty drug screens, had not completed the attachment assessment, was not participating fully in mental health and substance abuse counseling, was not participating in family counseling, had used illegal drugs since the January review hearing, and admitted she might not pass a drug screen at the time of the termination hearing. The court noted the State ...


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