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In re N.F.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 6, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF N.F. and Z.M., Minor Children, A.G., Mother, Appellant.

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

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to two children.

          Chira L. Corwin of Corwin Law Firm L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

          Brent M. Pattison of Drake Legal Clinic, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         A mother, Alexis, appeals from a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to two children-N.F., born in 2012, and Z.M., born in 2013.[1]Alexis challenges the sufficiency of the State's proof of the statutory grounds for termination. Alternatively, she argues the juvenile court should have granted her additional time to achieve reunification with her children. After independently reviewing the record, [2] we find clear and convincing evidence to support the findings of the juvenile court.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         These children came to the attention of the juvenile court in November 2015, when Alexis's youngest child, I.G., tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine at his birth. N.F. and Z.M. tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine as well, and Z.M. tested positive for cannabinoids. Alexis consented to the removal of her children, and the court ordered the children to be placed in foster care. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) placed N.F. and Z.M. in the same foster home and I.G. in another.

         Alexis, who had an extensive history of substance abuse, sought treatment in November 2015, shortly after the removal of her children. After completing a substance-abuse evaluation at the House of Mercy, she began inpatient treatment on December 3, 2015. Alexis left treatment six days later and lost contact with the Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) provider.

         In the next twelve months, Alexis completed three more substance-abuse evaluations. She participated in treatment only sporadically. Alexis completed her fourth evaluation in August 2016, around the time she learned she was pregnant. The resulting report revealed the extent of Alexis's substance-abuse history:

Alexis reported that she drank alcohol for the first time at age 10, and reported that she typically drinks approximately six beers every three or four days. She reported that in the last thirty days she has consumed alcohol on most days. . . .
Alexis reported that she began using marijuana at age 14. She reported that she uses the substance about two-three days per week, smoking ...

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