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In re R.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF R.S., Minor Child, C.S., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Montgomery County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Sara M. Hart of Reisinger, Booth & Associates P.C. L.L.O, Omaha, Nebraska, for appellant mother.

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

          Karen L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, for minor child.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights.[1] We find there is sufficient evidence to support termination of the mother's rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2016). Accordingly, we affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The child, who was less than a year old, came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) on April 15, 2016, due to reports the parents could not properly care for the child. The family lived in a small camper which was disorganized and littered with items that presented safety concerns for the child. The living space was too small for the child to achieve developmental goals, including rolling over; the camper had a small space heater that presented a fire hazard as it was sitting on a pile of debris; and there was food rotting on the counter. The mother also showed a dangerous lack of judgment in evaluating the child's safety. During one visit she allowed the child to hold a knife and "help carve" a pumpkin. She also allowed the child to play with toys inappropriate for his age.

         The mother and father's relationship was sporadic and included domestic abuse. The mother and father eventually separated, lived apart, and ultimately divorced. The mother does not have a valid driver's license, was unemployed for the majority of the case, and her new home was never approved for visits.

         The mother did complete a mental-health evaluation but only took steps to follow through with the recommendations shortly before the termination hearing. The mother did not consistently take her medication. When she did not take her medication she admitted she was "flipping out." The mother began a new relationship near the end of the case but was upset when she learned she would need to participate in couple's counseling and would need her new paramour to complete a mental-health evaluation.

         The child was placed with a paternal aunt and uncle after removal and has continued to live with them. The mother did not consistently take advantage of the visitation or telephone contact offered her. The termination hearing took place on April 7, 2017, and an order terminating the mother's parental rights was entered on April 10. The mother now appeals.

         II. ...


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