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In re G.N.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

December 18, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF G.N., S.N., and B.B., Minor Children, R.N., Father, Appellant, H.B., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary D. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

A mother and father separately appeal the order terminating their parental rights.

Gregory A. Johnston, Muscatine, for appellant-father.

Esther J. Dean, Muscatine, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Alan Ostergren, County Attorney, and Kevin McKeever and Korie L. Shippee, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

Timothy K. Wink of Schweitzer & Wink Law Firm, Columbus Junction, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield, JJ.

DANILSON, C.J.

The mother of B.B., [1] G.N., and S.N. appeals from the termination of her parental rights. The father of G.N. and S.N. separately appeals the termination of his parental rights. Upon our de novo review, because we find clear and convincing evidence supports the termination of both parents' parental rights and that termination is in the children's best interests, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

B.B. was born April 9, 2007, G.N. was born, June 3, 2009; and S.N. was born August 10, 2010.

G.N. and S.N.'s father was incarcerated from September 2011, following a violation of his parole, until his release in May 2013. This was his fourth time being imprisoned.[2] He was offered visitation with his children by the department of corrections, but he did not see them during his incarceration. His only contact with the children was cards he sent periodically. The father did have one visit with his children following his release from prison, after the termination proceedings had begun, but the children did not recognize him. The father did not contribute to the children financially while he was in prison.

The mother has been provided services by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) intermittently since January 2007. Services were provided from September 2010 until June 2011 after S.N. tested positive for THC at birth. All three children were removed from the mother's care on March 13, 2012. The children were removed due to the mother's ongoing mental health issues that made her unable to parent the children independently. She had been hospitalized in early March 2012 due to anxiety and depression. The mother left the children with their maternal grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer's and was unable to care for the children.

The children were adjudicated in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code sections 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2011) on May 7, 2012. The court ordered the mother to complete a psychological evaluation and comply with all recommendations regarding her mental health. The court also ordered her to complete a substance abuse evaluation and comply with recommended treatment, as well as comply with requests from DHS for random drug testing.

At an uncontested review hearing on August 2, 2012, the mother reported she had relapsed by using marijuana. Although the mother had received a large lump sum for back benefits from social security disability, she did not use the funds to obtain housing. Also, although she had been ...


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