IN THE INTEREST OF B.T., Minor child, A.P., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M.
Jacobs, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS. Zachary C. Priebe of
Jeff Carter Law Offices, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
ConGarry D. Williams of the State Public Defender, Des
Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child,
B.T., born in 2006. She does not dispute that grounds for
termination of her parental rights were established. Rather,
she contends the juvenile court should have established a
guardianship for the child with his maternal grandmother
because termination of the mother's rights is not in the
child's best interests and the statutory factors found in
Iowa Code section 232.116(3) (2016) apply here, negating the
need to terminate. Upon our de novo review of the record,
see In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016), we
agree. Accordingly, we reverse and remand the case to the
juvenile court with directions.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
mother was born in 1989 and began abusing alcohol and drugs
when she was twelve years old. Since the child's birth in
2006, a pattern has emerged wherein the mother is able to
remain sober for a period of time-sometimes years at a
time-followed by a relapse. When the mother has fallen off
the wagon, the child's maternal grandmother
(Grandmother), and at times the paternal grandmother, have
intervened to care for the child.
the mother is sober, she is a dedicated and loving parent who
shares a close relationship with the child. Yet, the mother
has relapsed since the child's birth at least four times,
including methamphetamine use in November 2009, opioid use in
November 2012, methamphetamine use in April 2013, and most
recently, heroin use in August 2015. Her most recent use led
to the initiation of the present child-in-need-of-assistance
(CINA) case and the placement of the child in his
Grandmother's care, with supervision by the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS), where the child has since
for reunification were offered to the parents, but by July
2016, the DHS recommended the parents' parental rights be
terminated. At the August 2016 permanency hearing, the mother
requested an extension of time for reunification. The court
denied the mother's request and directed the State to
file a petition for termination of parental rights, which the
State subsequently filed. Thereafter, the mother was arrested
for violating her probation and for committing fourth-degree
theft. She was incarcerated until October 19, 2016, and then
was admitted for residential treatment at a women's
termination-of-parental-rights hearing was held November 21,
2016. By all accounts, the mother's treatment was
progressing, and she was on track to complete her established
treatment goals. She was tentatively scheduled for discharge
on December 9, 2016, at which time the mother would
transition to a sober living facility for six to twelve
months. During that time, the mother would be required to
attend treatment and maintain employment.
mother testified at the hearing and admitted the child could
not be returned to her care at that time. But rather than
terminating her parental rights, she asked that the court
grant the Grandmother guardianship of the child. The
Grandmother also testified, and she was asked ...