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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 19, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., Minor Child, A.D., Mother, Appellant, J.B., Father, Appellant.

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

         A mother and father appeal separately from the juvenile court's order terminating their parental rights.

          Lori M. Holm of Holm Law Office, West Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          John C. Audlehelm of Audlehelm Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Erin E. Mayfield of the Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A mother and father appeal separately from the juvenile court's order terminating their parental rights to their child. Both argue the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and an exception to termination exists due to their close bond with their child. The mother additionally argues termination is contrary to A.B.'s best interests and the juvenile court should not have terminated her parental rights because the child is placed with a relative. Upon our de novo review, we affirm both appeals.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The mother and father have one child, A.B., born in 2015. The family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2016, due to the parents' mental-health issues and use of methamphetamine while caring for their child. The parents consented to the temporary removal of the child, and the court ordered the child be placed with the paternal grandmother. That same month, the State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition. The court held an uncontested hearing in April 2016 and adjudicated the child CINA under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and 232.2(6)(n) (2016).

         In May, the court entered a dispositional order confirming the adjudication and continuing placement of the child with the paternal grandmother. The court also adopted a case permanency plan outlining several requirements for both parents to satisfy in order to have A.B. returned to their care. The plan provided "both parents need to adequately address their mental health and substance abuse concerns and demonstrate a period of sobriety as well as insight into how substance use affects their ability to parent." The court-adopted plan also specified the parents were to participate in individual therapy, substance-abuse treatment, drug screening, and other family services.

         The court held a permanency hearing in September, after which the court granted the parents an additional six months to work toward reunification with their child. The court required each parent to "participate fully in services[, ] . . . abstain from use of illegal substances, " and further required "[the] mother obtain a new substance abuse evaluation and follow recommendations." A sweat patch drug screen was administered to the mother immediately following the permanency hearing, which resulted in a positive test for methamphetamine. The mother did not obtain a new substance-abuse evaluation until early January 2017-nearly four months later-because she was recovering from a medical procedure.

         The record shows the father continued to use methamphetamine throughout the CINA case and only occasionally attended therapy appointments. He tested positive for methamphetamine as recent as January 2017, just a week before the combined permanency review and termination hearing began. The mother testified she did not know about the ...


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