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In re K.W.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 23, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF K.W. AND I.W., Minor Children, M.G., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

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

Deborah M. Skelton, Walford, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Janet L. Hoffman, Assistant Attorney General, Jerry Vander Sanden, County Attorney, and Kelly Kaufman, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Julie Trachta of Linn County Advocates, Cedar Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, P.J.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her two children, born in 2009 and 2011. She contends (1) the State failed to prove the ground for termination cited by the district court and (2) termination was not in the children's best interests.

I.

The district court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2013), requiring proof of several elements, including proof that the children could not be returned to the parent's custody. On our de novo review, we agree with the court that this ground was proven by clear and convincing evidence. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010) (setting forth the standard of review).

The mother began a rocky relationship with the children's father when she was seventeen years old. In time, the father pled guilty to domestic abuse assault, and a no-contact order was issued.

Shortly after the first child's birth, the mother was found to have violated the no-contact order. The district court ordered the child removed from her care and placed in the custody of the department of human services. The child was adjudicated in need of assistance, and the maternal grandfather became his caretaker. Eventually, the child was reunited with the mother and the child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding was dismissed.

Meanwhile, the mother had a second child. In 2012, the department reinitiated its involvement with the family after discovering that the mother and father were living together in an unsafe and unsanitary apartment.

The mother only sporadically engaged in reunification services. Despite a psychologist's recommendation that she participate in individual mental health therapy to address her major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, the mother curtailed that therapy two months before the termination hearing. She also elected to discontinue her prescribed depression and anxiety medication. Finally, she stopped recommended substance ...


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