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In re C.M.-S.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 23, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF C.M.-S., Minor Child, C.M., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Harrison County, Susan Larson Christensen, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

Joel T. Niebaum, Missouri Valley, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Jennifer Mumm, County Attorney, and Judson Frisk, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Jack White, Missouri Valley, for father.

Abby Davison, Office of State Public Defender, Council Bluffs, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

TABOR, J.

A mother appeals the termination of parental rights to her five-year-old daughter. She argues the State failed to meet its burden to show that the child, C.M.-S., could not be returned home on the day of the termination hearing. Because we find the State offered clear and convincing evidence that reunification was not presently possible due to the mother's unresolved substance abuse issues, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Cayli gave birth to C.M.-S. in April 2008.[1] The child came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) on March 20, 2011, following an argument between Cayli and her own mother over the possession of methamphetamine. Cayli and her boyfriend fled the state to avoid apprehension by the police. They were later found with the children[2] in Blair, Nebraska. When they returned, DHS removed C.M.-S. from Cayli's custody on March 20, 2011. On March 22, 2011, the court entered an order of temporary removal and directed C.M.-S. to remain with the child's maternal aunt. In that order the court also required drug screenings and substance abuse evaluations for Cayli.

On May 2, 2011, the court found C.M.-S. to be a child in need of assistance (CINA) because Cayli exposed her child to drug use and domestic violence. C.M.-S. has been out of Cayli's custody since that time. On December 6, 2011, the court ordered Cayli's boyfriend to have no contact with C.M.-S. But Cayli's relationship with the boyfriend has continued despite the court order prohibiting his contact with her children.[3] In addition, Cayli has continuously refused to participate in any drug testing or treatment program from December 2011 to the present. At a November 2012 permanency review hearing, the juvenile court found Cayli continued to disregard its orders regarding reunification services.

The State filed a petition for the termination of Cayli's parental rights on March 27, 2013. The juvenile court held a termination hearing on May 3, 2013. Since C.M.-S. was removed from Cayli's care, the child has been in the custody of her aunt and uncle. Cayli has been allowed to call C.M.-S. daily since April of 2013, but was not allowed to visit until she complied with drug screens.

Gina West-Hendrickson testified at the termination hearing at the request of the child's guardian ad litem. She is a mental health therapist who has worked with C.M.-S. West-Hendrickson testified C.M.-S. now feels at home with the aunt and uncle. They would like to adopt C.M.-S.. The aunt testified Cayli blames them for losing custody of C.M.-S. Because Cayli harassed her sister, the court issued a no-contact order between them. The aunt also testified C.M.-S. misbehaves when the mother is around. C.M.-S. no longer listens to instructions and acts ...


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