IN THE INTEREST OF N.K. and D.O., Minor Children,
V. R., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Jason A.
Burns, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
R. Ramsey-Kacena, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
R. Murray of Murray Law Office, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
mother, V.R., appeals the termination of her parental rights
to her two children, asserting a deficiency in the notice of
the termination hearing, she should have been given
additional time to pursue reunification, and termination was
not in the children's best interests. Finding no merit to
her assertions, we affirm the district court's
termination of the mother's parental
review termination of parental rights cases de novo. In
re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). Rulings on
motions to continue within the case are reviewed for an abuse
of discretion and will only be reversed if injustice will
result against the party seeking the motion. In re
C.W., 554 N.W.2d 279, 281 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996).
district court noted, V.R., the mother of six children,
"has a long history of struggles and failures, " as
well as a long history of involvement with the department of
human services (DHS). Along with her unaddressed drug abuse, the
mother has mental health issues, has failed to comply with
offered services, and has only secured sporadic employment or
housing. The mother's parental rights to N.K., born 2013,
were terminated under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (g)
(2017); her rights to D.O., born 2016, were terminated under
section 232.116(1)(g) and (h). She does not contest the
statutory findings as to the grounds for termination, and
therefore, we affirm those findings. See In re P.L.,
778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010) (stating we need not address
issues not challenged by a parent on appeal).
mother claims she did not have adequate notice of the
termination hearing but only as it affects her parental
rights to D.O. The petition was filed on March 22, 2017, but
was not served on her until April 6, with the matter coming
on for hearing on April 11. However, the petition to
terminate her parental rights to N.K. was filed on January
30, 2017, and the hearing on that petition was also set for
April 11. When the termination hearing commenced, the State
asserted the mother's former counsel had recommended the
termination of the mother's parental rights as to both
children be held at the same time, for the benefit of the
mother, thus sparing her having "to go through two
separate trials." The mother's subsequent counsel
did not disagree with that assessment, and although her
attorney expected the mother to be present for the
termination hearing, the mother failed to appear. The
district court found the mother "did have actual notice
through her attorney that it was incoming and that her
attorney at that time had requested that those be scheduled
together." As the record supports this finding, we
agree. See In re R.E., 462 N.W.2d 723, 727 (Iowa Ct.
App. 1990) (finding sufficient notice where the mother had
knowledge of the ongoing proceedings and the mother's
attorney had notice of the hearing and pretrial contact with
the mother asserts she should have been given additional time
to pursue reunification with the children. However, she sets
forth no factual support for her assertion. Given the number
of years this mother has been receiving and only sporadically
complying with services, we see no merit in her assertion.
See In re A.A.G., 708 N.W.2d 85, 92-93 (Iowa Ct.
App. 2005) (noting no extension of time is warranted when it
appears the situation will not change in the near future).
the mother asserts it is not in the children's best
interests to terminate her parental rights, as severing the
bond she has with the children would be detrimental to them.
The service provider who supervised the mother's visits
with the children noted the mother is "very
nurturing" and "brings toys [and] candies" to
the visits. However, the provider concluded the children see
the mother at the visits as more of someone fun to "hang
out with" rather than a parent. The mother has only
attended ten of the twenty-five visits the worker supervised,
weakening her assertion her bond with the children should
hinder termination. See Iowa Code §
232.116(3)(c). As to the best interests of the children under
Iowa Code section 232.116(2), the DHS worker testified the
mother has only regressed during her involvement with the
family and that the mother "appears [physically] to be
heavily into her addiction . . . she looks almost gaunt. Umm,
just-she looks like a thin shell of herself." This
answer reflects the state the mother was in after she
absconded to Florida with the children in September 2016,
shortly before their final removal from the home, when she
was found disoriented, covered with sores, and not caring for
the children. Upon her return to Iowa, the mother tested
positive for methamphetamine. Based on the record before us,
we agree with the district court that termination was in the
best interests of the children.
we conclude the mother had actual notice of the termination
hearing, additional time was not warranted, and termination
was in the best interests of the children, we affirm the