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In re J.E.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 23, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF J.E., Minor Child, J.K., Intervenor, Appellant, K.L., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Annette L. Boehlje, District Associate Judge.

A mother and the maternal grandmother appeal the termination of the mother's parental rights.

William T. Morrison, Mason City, for appellant-intervenor.

Theresa A. Staudt of Esser & Isaacson, Mason City, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Janet L. Hoffman, Assistant Attorney General, Carlyle D. Dalen, County Attorney, and Nichole Benes, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Mark A. Young of Young Law Office, Mason City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Nicholas Larson, Osage, for father.

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

DANILSON, J.

J.E.'s mother, K.L., and the intervenor-maternal grandmother, J.K. (formerly known as J.F.), appeal from the termination of the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2013).[1] The mother did not preserve error on her claim J.E. could be placed back in her care presently, and severing parental ties so that J.E. may be adopted is in his best interests.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

J.E. was born in July 2009, and has been placed out of the mother's care and custody since September 2011. The child's removal was a result of the mother's untreated mental health issues and both parents' domestic violence and substance abuse issues, which remain largely unaddressed at this time. J.E. was at one time placed with the intervenor-grandmother; however, he was removed from the grandmother's care in February 2012 because J.K. failed to cooperate with the department of human services; failed to establish appropriate boundaries with the child's parents; and ignored concerns for the child's safety, including allowing the mother contact with the child despite directives not to do so, and continuing to expose the child to the parents' volatile relationship.

On January 9, 2013, this court upheld the dismissal of a previous termination petition concerning this child. In re J.E., No. 12-1841, 2013 WL 100093 (Iowa Ct. App. January 9, 2013). The juvenile court had found there were statutory grounds for termination pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) (2011) (authorizing termination where parent failed to maintain significant contact over last six months) and (h) (authorizing termination where child under three has been adjudicated CINA, has been out of parent's custody for at least last six months, and cannot be returned home at present). See J.E., 2013 WL 100093, at *1. However, the juvenile court concluded termination of parental rights was not in the child's best interests at that time. The court wrote:

Further evaluation of relative placements needs to occur, on an expedited basis, so that additional permanency options for [J.E.] can be analyzed. Possible permanency options to be explored may include guardianship of [J.E.] with [great aunt and uncle] . . . or possible adoption by [them]. The court may also determine, after a full consideration of placement of [J.E.] with [them], that continued ...

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