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In re J.J.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 7, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF J.J. and J.J., Minor Children, J.J., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clayton County, Alan Allbee, Associate Juvenile Judge.

A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights.

Nicholas E. Hay of Jacobson, Bristol, Garrett & Swartz, Waukon, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Alan Heavens, County Attorney, and Natalia Blaskovich, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Kimberly S. Lange of Kimberly S. Lange Law Office, Edgewood, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

DANISON, J.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children, JJ1[1] and JJ2.[2] The juvenile court terminated the mother's rights after a lengthy involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), which had resulted in the removal of the children from her custody three separate times. Although the mother has recently made commendable changes in her life, we agree with the juvenile court that the children cannot be returned to her care at this time. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

JJ2 was born in April 2011 and was two years old at the time of the termination hearing. His sister, JJ1, was six years old at the time of the hearing.

JJ2 was born drug-affected and tested positive for methamphetamine. DHS then had JJ1 tested; she also tested positive for methamphetamine present in her body. At that time DHS removed both children from their parents'[3] custody due to the mother's use of methamphetamine and her exposure of the children to the drug.

On May 13, 2011, the children were returned to their mother's care. The three entered the Heart of Iowa, a residential substance abuse and parenting program.

On May 26, 2011, the children were adjudicated to be children in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2)(n), and (o) (2011).

The court found that the mother suffered from co-occurring disorders including substance abuse, anxiety, and depressive disorders. The court also noted that JJ1 had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. JJ2 was suffering from seizures and breathing difficulties, which required continued medical intervention.

On July 14, 2011, the removal order was vacated and the mother retained custody of both children. Her custodial rights were conditioned upon her continued participation in and successful completion of the treatment and courses offered by the Heart of Iowa. The mother did successfully complete the program. However, her peers did not vote her and the children into the after-care program provided by the facility. They cited her parenting problems as the reason they did not want her to participate. During her time at Heart of Iowa, the mother was caught shoplifting a bathing suit. She was also cited by Heart of Iowa for failure to follow the facility's rules regarding the storage of medication.

Upon leaving the Heart of Iowa, the family transitioned into a similar program at Hightower in Clinton, Iowa. En route to the program, the mother purportedly shoplifted from a gas station. While at Hightower the mother continued to have parenting problems and once slapped JJ1 across the face. Because no mark remained twenty-four hours later, a not founded child abuse report was made. She also violated the program rules by using alcohol and was arrested, in the presence of the children, for another shoplifting incident. As a result, she was discharged from Hightower on September 20, 2011, without successfully completing the program.

The children were removed from their mother's custody a second time on October 18, 2011. The findings of fact from ...


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