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In re J.P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.P., Minor Child, J.D., Mother, Petitioner-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Jessica Maffitt of Benzoni Law Office, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Charles K. Phillips, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          John P. Jellineck of the Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, for minor child.

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

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights.[1] Because we find the State has made reasonable efforts to reunify the mother and child, and because there is clear and convincing evidence to support termination pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2016), termination is in the child's best interests, and no permissive factor weighs against termination, we affirm the termination of the mother's parental rights.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The child was born in September 2015 and came to the attention of the juvenile court on October 13, 2015, after the mother contacted the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and reported that she was unable to care for the child because her mental-health, substance-abuse, and childhood-trauma issues were more than she could bear at that time.[2] The mother (age thirty at the time of the termination hearing) has a significant history of trauma, mental-health disorders and substance abuse. She has been diagnosed with seizure disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, major depression disorder, split personality disorder, and mild mental retardation. She has struggled with these mental-health concerns since she was fourteen years old. The juvenile court entered a temporary removal order with the mother's consent. The child was placed in the temporary legal custody of DHS for foster care. On October 21, an order confirming the removal was entered.

         On December 4, the court entered an order adjudicating the child in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(k) and (n).[3] The adjudication order states:

The Court has inquired of the parties as to the sufficiency of services being provided and whether additional services are needed to facilitate the safe return of the child to the home and finds the following services shall be or continue to be offered: visits at DHS discretion; [Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency] FSRP services; mental health and substance abuse treatment for mother; substance abuse evaluation for putative father; paternity testing; housing assistance for the mother; transportation assistance for the mother; parenting classes for the mother.

         On January 13, 2016, the juvenile court entered a dispositional order, continuing the child in foster care and adopting a case permanency plan, which required the mother to participate in supervised visitation at DHS discretion and participate in Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) services and comply with all FSRP recommendations, as well as participate in substance-abuse therapy and comply with all therapy recommendations. The mother was also required to address her mental-health concerns by participating in therapy and taking her medication as prescribed and working with a domestic-violence advocate in either a group or individual setting. The court wrote:

8. The court inquired of the parties as to the sufficiency of services being provided and whether additional services are needed to facilitate the safe return to or maintenance of the child in the home. Based on this inquiry, the Court finds that the mother requests additional visits. DHS is in agreement and is working to facilitate more frequent visits.
9. The Court advises the parties that failure to identify a deficiency in services may preclude the party from challenging the sufficiency of services in a termination of parental rights proceeding.
10. Reasonable efforts have been made to eliminate or prevent the need for removal of the child from the home and to finalize any permanency plan in effect and to maintain sibling contact; these services include those set forth in State's Exhibit 9, incorporated herein by reference.

         Review hearings were held on March 16, May 3, and August 3, 2016. The March ...


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