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In re S.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 19, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF S.G. and J.G.-P., Minor children, S.P., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Mary L. Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         The mother appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to her children. AFFIRMED.

          Zachary S. Hindman of Mayne, Arneson, Hindman, Hisey & Daane, Sioux City, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Joseph W. Kertels of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.

         The mother appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to her children, J.G.-P. and S.G., born in 2010 and 2012, respectively.[1] The mother maintains there was not clear and convincing evidence the children could not be returned to her care at the time of the termination hearing and termination is not in the children's best interests.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and the juvenile court first became involved with this family in 2011, when the mother-then sixteen years old-was adjudicated delinquent for committing the acts of interference with official acts and minor in possession of alcohol. J.G.-P. was already almost one year old, and soon thereafter, the mother became pregnant with S.G. The mother was struggling with her mental health and was having difficulties in her relationship with the children's father. At the time, the mother lived with her mother, who was also lacking stability and appeared to have difficulty providing for the basic needs of the mother and her siblings.

         S.G. was born in June 2012, and both children were adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA) in October 2012.

         The mother received and engaged in some services, including finding a home for the family, working toward a high-school-equivalent degree, and learning parenting and planning skills. The children remained with their parents and they appeared to be healthy and well cared for.

         At a dispositional review hearing in February 2014, the mother reported to the court that she had ended her relationship with the children's father because she suspected he was using illegal drugs again. At the time, the mother was not employed and had not been attending school. The court indicated that over the next six months, it expected the mother to continue to seek employment, complete her education, maintain stability in her housing, and provide medical-insurance coverage for the children.

         The State filed an application for removal in July 2014, claiming the mother had been avoiding contact with DHS and had been driving without a license. The mother had apparently moved to California with the children without telling DHS or the court, and it had been a number of months since she had made contact.[2] Both children were removed from the ...


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