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In re A.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 19, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R., Minor Child, M.R., Father, Appellant, M.L., Mother, Appellant

Editorial Note:

This opinion is subject to modification or correction bye the court and is not final until the time for rehearing or further review has passed.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Stephen A. Owen, District Associate Judge. A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.

John J. Haney of Hinshaw, Danielson & Haney, P.C., Marshalltown, for appellant-father.

Jeffrey P. Hazen of Grimes, Buck, Schoell Beach & Hitchins, Marshalltown, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Jennifer Miller, County Attorney, and Luke B. Hansen, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Mary Cowdrey of Public Defender's Office, Marshalltown, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

OPINION

TABOR, J.

The juvenile court terminated the parental rights of A.R.'s mother and father--reaching the " unmistakable" conclusion they could not reunite with their six-year-old daughter because they failed to timely address their long history of serious drug abuse. The parents separately appeal the termination order. The mother, Megan, asserts A.R. can be returned to her care at the House of Mercy, an in-patient addiction treatment program and argues terminating her parental rights is not in A.R.'s best interests. The father, Michael, argues the State did not meet its burden of proof on the statutory grounds for termination.

The district court engaged in thorough fact finding and sound legal analysis. Our de novo review of the record leads us to the same conclusion: clear and convincing evidence supports severing the legal ties of A.R.'s birth parents. A.R.'s need for stability, safety, and long-term nurturing and growth are best served by allowing her maternal great aunt to move toward adoption. We affirm on both appeals.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Her parents' entanglement with methamphetamine first endangered A.R. when she was just three months old. A drug raid at her home in April 2008 resulted in a court-ordered removal. The Department of Human Services (DHS) placed A.R. with her maternal grandmother. Megan lived there as well, and she completed outpatient treatment and complied with drug testing. The DHS closed its case.

But Megan started using methamphetamine again in 2011. The court adjudicated A.R. as a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) in January 2012. A.R. has been living with her great aunt since that time. Megan has had supervised visitation. By her own admission, Megan used drugs consistently between July and November of 2012. She entered outpatient treatment in October 2012 and reported completing that ...


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