IN THE INTEREST OF K.D. and A.D., Minor children, J.D., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Montgomery County, Amy L.
Zacharias, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
M. Hart of Reisinger Booth & Associates, P.C., L.L.O.,
Omaha, Nebraska, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
children, K.D. and A.D. She claims the State failed to prove
the statutory grounds for termination, that termination is
not in the children's best interests, and that Iowa Code
section 232.116(3) (2015) factors apply to overcome
termination. We affirm the juvenile court's order.
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). We
examine both the facts and law, and we adjudicate anew those
issues properly preserved and presented. See In re
L.G., 532 N.W.2d 478, 480 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995). We will
uphold an order terminating parental rights only if there is
clear and convincing evidence establishing the statutory
grounds for termination of the parent's rights. See
In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000). Evidence is
"clear and convincing" when there is no serious or
substantial doubt as to the correctness of the conclusions of
law drawn from the evidence. Id.
of parental rights under Iowa Code chapter 232 follows a
three-step analysis. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33,
40-41 (Iowa 2010). First, the court must determine if a
ground authorizing the termination of parental rights under
section 232.116(1) has been established. See id. at
40. Second, if a ground for termination is established, the
court must apply the framework set forth in section
232.116(2) to decide if proceeding with termination is in the
best interests of the child. See id. Third, if the
statutory best-interests framework supports termination of
parental rights, the court must consider if any statutory
exceptions set forth in section 232.116(3) should serve to
preclude termination. See id. at 41. The exceptions
set forth in subsection three are permissive and not
mandatory. See A.M., 843 N.W.2d at 113.
district court terminated the mother's rights pursuant to
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (as to the older child) and
(h) (as to the younger child). As relevant here, termination
pursuant to paragraphs (f) and (h) requires the State to
prove the children could not be returned at the present time
to the mother's care as provided in section 232.102.
See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(f)(4), (h)(4) (both
requiring proof the child cannot be returned at the present
time to the parent's custody "as provided in section
232.102"). To satisfy its burden of proof, the State
must establish "[t]he child cannot be protected from
some harm which would justify the adjudication of the child
as a child in need of assistance." See id.
§ 232.102(5)(2); see also In re A.M.S., 419
N.W.2d 723, 725 (Iowa 1988). The threat of probable harm will
justify termination of parental rights, and the perceived
harm need not be the one that supported the child's
initial removal from the home. See In re M.M., 483
N.W.2d 812, 814 (Iowa 1992). "At the present time"
refers to the time of the termination hearing. A.M.,
843 N.W.2d at 111.
children were removed from the parents' home in July
2015. The termination hearing was held in October 2016. In
its findings of fact, the juvenile court noted that an Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) worker testified,
the children cannot be returned to their mother's care
now or at any time in the foreseeable future because she did
not follow through with substance-abuse treatment and has
very little progress towards maintaining her sobriety. [The
worker] testified she placed [the mother] on a call-in system
for drug testing but she did not comply with those protocols.
[The worker] also testified it would be ...