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In re L.I.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 5, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF L.I., Minor Child, K.I., 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 Cass County, Susan Larson Christensen, District Associate Judge. A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

Karen K. Emerson Peters, Atlantic, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, and Daniel Fiestner, County Attorney, for appellee.

David Weiderstein of Otto, Lorence & Weiderstein, P.C., Atlantic, for father.

Karen Mailander, Anita, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

OPINION

TABOR, J.

A mother appeals a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to her son, L.I., under Iowa Code sections 232.116(1)(e), (h), and (i) (2013). She argues the State failed to offer clear and convincing evidence of the statutory grounds for termination.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

L.I. came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in April 2102 due to allegations he was left in the care of an uncle who failed to provide adequate supervision. L.I. suffered a skull fracture when he fell from a bed. L.I.'s parents, Kelly and Brandon,[1] were evicted from their home in May 2012. Kelly also has three older daughters, then ages six, five and two. The DHS removed L.I. and his sisters from Kelly's care in June 2012, when L.I. was less than four months old. The juvenile court adjudicated all four siblings as children in need of assistance (CINA) in July 2012. The DHS placed L.I. and his sisters in family foster care, which has been provided by his paternal grandparents who are licensed foster care providers.

In late 2012, L.I.'s grandparents reported Brandon tried to sell L.I. to them for $5,000 (later lowering the price to $1,000). The grandparents told Brandon it was illegal to sell a child. While Kelly maintains this proposition was not her idea, she was present and made no effort to distance herself from it. In fact, the grandparents remember her saying, " We should at least get something for my pain and suffering." Consistent with these sentiments, the case workers testified that Kelly was not closely bonded with her son and did not make a concerted effort to develop an individualized relationship with him, separate from her older daughters.

At no time from removal to termination did Kelly ever have semi-supervised or unsupervised visits. The workers were not confident that she could ...


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