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In re N.B.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 18, 2013

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

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Monroe County, William S. Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.

A mother appeals the order terminating her parental rights.

Mary Baird Krafka of Krafka Law Office, Ottumwa, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, and Steven Goodlow, County Attorney, for appellee State.

Julie De Vries of De Vries Law Office, Centerville, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

DOYLE, J.

The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, N.B. She contends the State failed to make reasonable efforts toward reuniting her with the child. She also contends termination was not in the child's best interests. We review her claims de novo. See In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012).

The mother has a lengthy history of mental illness and involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). In 2005, the mother's parental rights to her eldest biological child were terminated, notwithstanding the extensive array of services offered to her at that time to eliminate the need for DHS involvement, including mental health treatment. During the pendency of that case, the mother was committed for inpatient evaluation and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The mother gave birth to N.B. in February 2012, and the child was removed from the mother's care shortly thereafter because the mother was unable to properly care for the child. The mother was again offered numerous services, including a mental health evaluation and treatment, as well as visitation with the child, but she did not fully avail herself of the offered services.

In March 2013, the State filed its petition for termination of the mother's parental rights. The guardian ad litem recommended termination of the mother's parental rights. Following the termination hearing in April 2013, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1) paragraphs (g) and (h) (2013). The mother now appeals.

On appeal, the mother does not challenge the juvenile court's determination that the State proved grounds for termination of her parental rights. Rather, she contends the State failed to provide reasonable services to reunify her with the child. Specifically, the mother asserts the juvenile court should have granted her request for additional time to "fine-tune her parenting skills." She claims with additional time she could develop a bond with the child and achieve reunification. Additionally, the mother argues termination of her parental rights was not in the child's best interests.

In its order terminating the mother's parental rights, the court found:

[The child] has been in foster care since March 8, 2012, a period of thirteen consecutive months. [The mother] has not consistently participated in visits with [the child], nor has she regularly ...

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