IN THE INTEREST OF A.W., Minor Child, J.W, Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights
to her child, A.W., born in March 2015. AFFIRMED.
L. Cameron of Cameron Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kimberly S. Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian
ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights
to her child, A.W., pursuant to Iowa Code Section
232.116(1)(g) and (h) (2017). The mother claims: (1) the
State failed to prove the statutory factors; (2) the court
erred in denying a six-month permanency extension; (3)
termination is not in the best interests of A.W.; (4) the
mother's bond with the child precludes termination; (5)
the juvenile court erred in denying the mother's motion
to continue; and (6) the juvenile court erred in denying the
mother's request to appoint new counsel. We affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
March 2015, A.W. came to the attention of the Iowa Department
of Human Services (DHS) upon a report the child was born with
methamphetamine in their system. On March 13, a removal order
was issued, and A.W. was placed with relatives. On March 23, the
court held a removal hearing and the mother stipulated to the
continued removal of A.W. However, the court placed A.W. in
foster care, as the relatives refused to provide requested
drug screenings. In its removal order, the court found the
mother had a history of substance abuse.
April 20, A.W. was adjudicated as a child in need of
assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o) (2015). At the adjudication
hearing, the mother stated she had relapsed on alcohol and
methamphetamine since the removal hearing. The mother also
reported she was asked to leave her rehabilitation facility
temporarily because a breathalyzer test was positive for
22, the mother requested A.W.'s return to her custody in
a contested dispositional hearing. The juvenile court found
the mother was participating in rehabilitative services and
making positive steps towards recovery. The court stated,
"The court does not want this finding to detract from
the mother's recent progress and believes the child will
be returned . . . if she continues to comply with services
and maintains sobriety." The juvenile court, however,
confirmed out-of-home placement for A.W in its order, citing
the mother's "substantial history of substance abuse
issues" and recent alcohol and methamphetamine relapses.
On September 10, the court continued the scheduled permanency
hearing, stating a "hearing is not required and the
mother has continued to make progress and expanded visitation
has started. All parties are in agreement to schedule the
hearing from permanency to a review hearing."
September 25, the State filed a motion to modify disposition
requesting A.W. be returned to the mother's care. The
State claimed, "[T]he mother has addressed the safety
concerns that led to the removal of the child from her care.
The mother has fully cooperated and participated in services.
She is currently residing at Hope Ministries." On
September 28, the court granted the State's motion and
placed A.W. in the custody of the mother "so long as
mother resides at Hope Ministries." The court also found
the child could not be placed with the father due to ongoing
substance-abuse issues and unstable housing.
of A.W. remained with the mother, and she transitioned from a
rehabilitative housing facility to independent housing.
However, in August 2016, the State received information from
DHS that the mother tested positive for
methamphetamine. The State filed another motion to modify
placement on August 25 and recommended placement with
A.W.'s prior foster family. In its motion the State
claimed, "DHS has received results for mother's
sweat patch from August 10, 2016, that was positive for
methamphetamine. There are additional concerns regarding
violations of the [no-contact order] between mother and
father when father became incarcerated at the Polk County
Jail towards the end of June 2016." The court granted
the State's motion on August 25, and A.W. was again
placed in foster care.
review hearing took place on September 22. The court adjusted
its findings on the mother's rehabilitative progress as
This matter was last reviewed early May of 2016, and at that
time mother had successfully completed the Hope Ministry
residential program and had obtained independent [housing]
for herself and the child. At the time, the Court was not
made aware of any concerns but reports received today
indicate Hope Ministry had reported in April that mother was
not consistently attending programing. At the time, mother
was expected to be meeting weekly for aftercare services.
Mother only attended two times in April, had one random
contact in May with her treatment provider, and one contact
mother also had troubling contact with the father. In June
2016, the police were called on two occasions when the father
violated the no-contact order between himself and the mother.
The juvenile court described the events:
In June of 2016, the police were called to mother's
residence on two separate occasions due to father appearing
and violating the no contact order. The first incident
occurred on June 5, 2016, where father appeared at the
apartment, kicked the door, called mother demeaning names,
and punched in the window. The child was present in the home
during this incident. Mother called the police and father
fled the scene. A second incident occurred on June 17, 2016 .
. . . Father appeared with a large kitchen knife in hand and
accused mother of being in a relationship with [another man].
The man fled the home fearing for his safety and called the
police. It is unclear where the child was during this
incident. Father was arrested on June 20, 2016, [and is]
currently in jail on charges related to these incidents. . .
. On June 28, 2016, there was a phone call between the
parents while Father was in jail. . . . During this call,
Mother puts the child on the phone to speak with Father. The
parents have another phone call the next day and fight
throughout the call. Father is repeatedly verbally abusive to
Mother but remains on the phone anyway. . . . The child is
also present during this call.
court also found the mother relapsed on methamphetamine in
August 2016 when she and A.W. tested positive for
methamphetamine. The court ordered A.W. to remain in