IN THE INTEREST OF N.G., Minor Child, S.P., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl E.
Traum, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
W. Stickle of Stickle Law Firm, P.L.C., Davenport, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Jennifer M. Olsen of Olsen Law Office, Davenport, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
mother of a twelve-year-old girl appeals the termination of
her parental rights. She asserts the grounds for termination
were not proved because the State failed to provide
reasonable services for reunification. She also asserts she
should be given additional time to work towards reunification
and that the establishment of a guardianship is in the
child's best interests and preferable to termination. We
find the district court appropriately terminated the
mother's parental rights and affirm.
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) in September 2015, upon concerns N.G. was the
victim of sexual abuse by her mother's then-paramour.
Upon further investigation, and later after N.G. participated
in counseling services, it was discovered two of the
mother's previous boyfriends had also sexually abused
N.G., with the mother offering no intervention to cease the
abuse. Even after learning of the most recent abuse, the
mother chose to leave N.G. unsupervised in the paramour's
care overnight. The mother eventually married the abuser.
was removed from the family home in Davenport in October 2015
and placed in the care of her maternal aunt in Dubuque. N.G.
was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) in
February 2016. With the mother's lack of consistent
compliance with offered services, the matter proceeded to
termination, with a contested hearing held on June 1, 2017.
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).
mother does not contest the district court's specific
findings under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (i) (2017)
but rather claims the DHS failed to offer reasonable services
such that the grounds were not proven by clear and convincing
evidence. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa
2010) (stating we need not review the unchallenged portions
of the district court's decision). We agree the State
must show reasonable efforts as a part of its ultimate proof
the child cannot be safely returned to the care of a parent.
C.B., 611 N.W.2d at 493. In considering the
sufficiency of evidence to support termination, the reviewing
court's focus is on the services provided by the State
and the response by the parent. Id. at 494 (emphasis
case, by late April 2016, the mother had moved to Dubuque. In
a September 9, 2016 report to the court, the DHS case worker
noted the mother was not complying with offered services; she
had not yet completed the psychological evaluation, and
although she was offered twice-weekly visits with N.G., the
mother was not consistent in attending nor taking advantage
of expanded weekend visitation. The worker noted that in
approximately June 2016 the mother "began to express an
interest in allowing [the maternal aunt] to become
[N.G.'s] legal guardian. She commented that it is what
[N.G.] wants. She stated there is not much purpose in going
through 'all these steps' if [N.G.] wants to stay
with [the aunt]." Although the mother did request a
change of venue to Dubuque County at the September 19, 2016
review hearing, the district court denied the request,
reasoning "the guardian ad litem, DHS worker, and
provider are all familiar with the parties and the
appeared the mother had resigned herself to having N.G.
remain with the aunt, and the mother had failed to
participate in offered services or take advantage of the
visitation offered, we find the district court's decision
fully supported by the record. Moreover, the interim DHS
reports, as well as the testimony at the termination hearing,
recounted the mother was offered transportation, should she
commit to attending offered services. As such, the