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In re J.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.R., Minor Child, A.J, Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F. Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights.

          Melody J. Butz of Butz Law Offices, P.C., Center Point, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kristi A. Traynor, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Ellen R. Ramsey-Kacena, Cedar Rapids, for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the order terminating her parental rights.[1] She claims the State did not make reasonable efforts toward reunification, the evidence was not sufficient to terminate her parental rights, and termination is not in the child's best interests. We find the State did make reasonable efforts toward reunification, the evidence to support termination was sufficient, and termination is in the child's best interests. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         J.R. was born in December 2005. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with the family in January 2007, due to the condition of the mother's house. J.R. and his half-siblings were removed from the home. J.R. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) on January 22. The mother was able to secure a suitable living arrangement in early 2008 and the children were returned in February. However, the children were once again removed in October, again due to the condition of the house. J.R. and his half-siblings were eventually placed with K.C., J.R.'s legal father.[2]

         The mother maintained a bond with the children and was granted visitation. However, she continued to struggle to maintain proper and suitable housing. During the case she has had extended periods of homelessness, including during the fall of 2016 when she lived in her van with her boyfriend and two dogs.

         In 2014, J.R. was the only child still living with K.C. K.C. and his girlfriend ended their relationship, and K.C. moved with J.R. to a camper. J.R. was allowed by K.C. to live with the father's friends, and has been in their care continuously since May 2015. The State filed an application to modify disposition. K.C. was allowed time to attempt to establish appropriate living conditions. However, on February 8, 2016, J.R.'s legal custody was placed with DHS for foster family care with the father's friends.

         The mother secured housing approximately two months before trial. However, the property had not been examined by DHS, the mother was not included on the lease, and DHS had not investigated the background of the friend the mother lives with. The mother has a history of involvement with unsafe individuals, including sex offenders.

         A termination hearing was held on December 19, 2016. The mother's parental rights were terminated ...


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