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In re B.H.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 2, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF B.H., J.E.-S., AND L.A.-S., Minor Children, L.S., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M. Jacobs, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of parental rights to three of her children.

Kevin Hobbs, West Des Moines, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Annette Taylor, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

ConGarry Williams of the Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

A mother appeals the termination of parental rights to three of her children; L.A.-S., born in June 2002; B.H., born in April 2006; and J.E.-S., born in December 2011. Because statutory grounds for termination were proved and termination will best further the long-term nurturing and growth of these children, we affirm.

Our review of termination of parental rights proceedings is de novo. In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010). We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing the credibility of witnesses. In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).

Termination of parental rights under chapter 232 follows a three-step analysis. First, the court must determine if a ground for termination under section 232.116(1) has been established. If a ground for termination is established, the court must, secondly, apply the best-interest framework set out in section 232.116(2) to decide if the grounds for termination should result in a termination of parental rights. Third, if the statutory best-interest framework supports termination of parental rights, the court must consider if any statutory exceptions set out in section 232.116(3) should serve to preclude termination of parental rights.

In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706-07 (Iowa 2010) (citations omitted).

In April 2009, the department of human services (DHS) confirmed the mother had struck L.A.-S. in the face. The mother, whose first language is Spanish, agreed to cooperate with services, and there was no juvenile court involvement at that time.

J.E.-S. tested positive for methamphetamine at birth in December 2011. The children were removed from their mother's custody on January 4, 2012, due to the mother's use of methamphetamine. The mother's DHS social worker, Jessica Munoz, is bilingual. The mother was provided supervised visits and progressed to semi-supervised and then overnight visits with the children by June 2013. However, the mother submitted a hair for testing, which tested positive for methamphetamine. Visits returned to fully supervised.

The mother returned to therapy, had another drug evaluation, and began following through with recommendations. J.E.-S. and an older sibling not involved in these termination proceedings were returned to the mother in October 2012 for a trial home placement. But, despite the mother's assertions that she was not using drugs, J.E.-S. again ...


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