Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Angela L. Doyle, District Associate Judge.
A mother appeals a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to four children.
Marcy Lundberg, Fort Dodge, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Ricki Osborn, County Attorney, and Joseph Tofilon, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Christopher O'Brien, Fort Dodge, Sarah Smith of Bennett, Crimmins & Smith, Fort Dodge, and Douglas Cook, Jewell, for father.
Derek Johnson, Fort Dodge, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
The mother of four children, E.G. (born July 2011), Z.H. (born January 2010), M.H. (born December 2007), and L.S. (born April 2004), appeals from a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. The mother argues the State failed to prove the statutory grounds and termination is not in the children's best interest. We affirm.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
The family has a lengthy history with the Department of Human Services (DHS), starting in 2006, with regard to the mother's fifth child, A.H., born December 2005. The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights to A.H. in October 2008. DHS intervened in that case due to the mother's mental health issues, poor parenting skills, and substance abuse issues. The mother began receiving services to address her mental health issues and gain employment, including nutritional education; anger management; parenting skill development; family safety, risk, and permanency services; budgeting assistance; behavioral management training for the children; visitation; mental health and substance abuse treatment. Although the mother attended substance abuse treatment and education services, she did not follow through with substance abuse counseling and did not take her mental health medications as prescribed.
Between 2008 and 2011, the mother's housing changed frequently. The mother and her paramour, L.S.'s father, were involved in a number of domestic incidents involving violence, some with the children present. DHS intervened in the family again in September 2011 after L.S.'s father physically abused L.S. DHS provided protective daycare while the mother addressed her mental health issues. DHS had concerns about the mother's ability to care for and supervise the children. In December 2011, L.S., who was seven years old, drank a household cleaner. The mother told him to go to the cabinet and take some Tums antacids. He was taken to the hospital where medical personnel surmised L.S. had not taken Tums, but adult Tylenol with codeine instead. He tested positive for opiates and acetaminophen.
In January 2012, the mother requested that the State remove the children from her care. DHS continued to be concerned with the mother's mental health and substance abuse issues, and her ability to supervise the children. She admitted continuing to use illegal drugs, failed to address her mental health needs, stated she could not handle the children, and threatened to flee the state with the children.
The juvenile court removed the children from the mother on January 24, 2012, and adjudicated them children in need of assistance on April 16, 2012. After the removal, the mother began to participate more fully in services and maintained frequent visitation. The court placed the children in the mother's home for a trial home visit on April 4, 2012. However, after the children were placed back in the mother's home, the mother quickly returned to past behaviors. She missed mental health treatment appointments and appointments for the children. She began using K2 and marijuana on a daily basis. DHS expected the mother to prevent ...