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In re T.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF T.S., Minor Child, S.S., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Jessica L. Wiebrand, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, T.S., born 2013. The district court found clear and convincing evidence supported termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) and (h) (2017), termination was in the child's best interests, and there were no impediments to termination. On our de novo review, we agree and affirm.[1] See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         I. Grounds for Termination.

         The mother claims the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence.

         The mother has a long history with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and with the district court, as her parental rights to her two older children were terminated in early 2013. T.S. was born with cocaine in her system, and the DHS removed her from the home and placed her in family foster care shortly after her birth. Following some success with complying with offered services, T.S. was returned to the mother's care in March 2015. Just one year later, DHS workers went to the home and found it in deplorable condition- infested with roaches and marked by visible piles of dog feces. The mother admitted she needed to wake up several times at night to wipe roaches off another child's face.[2] The mother suffers from an unspecified anxiety disorder and has not cooperated with mental-health services or recommended medication management. In addition, she continues to associate with various men who have been described as "unsafe" to be around the child. While the mother claims to be free of illegal drugs, the report submitted at the termination hearing reveals more than twenty-five "no shows" to drug testing from mid-March 2015 until mid-October 2016.

         The district court found the mother "has had an endless amount of services, support, and help to maintain the suitability of her home, " but as the DHS worker testified, the mother simply "goes through the motions" and does not make any progress in understanding how to safely care for her child. In finding the State had proved the grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g)[3] and (h)[4] the court stated:

[The mother] chooses to not take care of problems and issues without the direct help of service providers and only after conditions get to the point where it is unsafe for the children. After the most recent two and one-half years of services, [the mother] continues to struggle with the condition ...

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