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In re A.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 23, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF A.S., Minor Child, T.S., Mother, Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a "Decisions Without Published Opinions" table in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge. A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights.

John T. Nemmers of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd and Janet L. Hoffman, Assistant Attorneys General, Ralph Potter, County Attorney, and Joshua Vander Ploeg, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Denis D. Faber Jr., Dubuque, for minor child.

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

OPINION

DANILSON, C.J.

A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h)[1] and ( l )[2] (2013). Upon our de novo review, In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012), we find clear and convincing evidence to support termination under section 232.116(1)(h), and thus, need not discuss the other statutory ground. See id. at 774 ( " When the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground we find supported by the record." ). The mother has failed to address her mental health needs and substance abuse issues and we can discern no reason to afford her an extension of time. We also find no prejudice by the State's late filing of its witness and exhibit list. We affirm the termination of the mother's parental rights.[3]

I. Background Facts .

The child was born in November 2012. The mother, who had an extensive personal history with the department of human services (DHS), turned eighteen in January 2013. The child was removed from the mother's custody in February 2013 when the maternal grandfather contacted DHS: he reported the mother had left the child in his care (leaving in the middle of the night and not telling him), he did not know the mother's whereabouts, and he was unable to care for the infant long-term. Upon removal, the child tested positive for THC (marijuana).

The mother states she has an apartment and income (SSI and her boyfriend's income).

The mother has not addressed her mental health issues. The mother has several diagnoses and a long history with services as a juvenile, which we need not cover here. Although she was ordered in April 2013 to get a mental health evaluation, she did not set up the evaluation until after the July disposition hearing, and she failed to follow through with the evaluator's request to observe a parent-child interaction before completing the evaluation report. The evaluation report noted the mother has significant mental health issues and is in need of treatment. Though the mother said at the termination trial that she would be willing to attend therapy, her actions speak louder than words. See In re T.B., 604 N.W.2d 660, 662 (Iowa 2000) ( " The future can be gleaned from evidence of the parent[']s past performance and motivations." ).

Nor has the mother addressed her substance abuse issues. The child tested positive for THC when removed from her care. The mother admits marijuana use. A substance abuse evaluation--which the mother did not schedule until July 2013 despite weekly reminders to do so--resulted in a recommendation of extensive outpatient treatment. She attended one group session. When she told the counselor she did not feel comfortable in a group setting, individual sessions were arranged. The mother attended only two sessions and no more. She states she has not used marijuana for two weeks. She insists she can stay clean without treatment and that she is sober, but her two--week ...


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