IN THE INTEREST OF J.M., Minor Child, J.L., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L.
Block, Associate Juvenile Judge.
appeals from the order terminating her parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017). REVERSED
A. Hall of Linda Hall Law Firm & Mediation Services,
P.L.L.C., Cedar Falls, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
N. Sailer of Sailer Law, PLLC., Waterloo, guardian ad litem
for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
the mother, appeals from an order terminating her parental
rights in her child, J.M., pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(e), (h), and (l) (2017). On appeal, the
mother challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting
each of the grounds authorizing termination of her parental
rights. She also contends the State failed to make reasonable
efforts to facilitate reunification of the family and
termination is not in the best interest of J.M.
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (IDHS) and the juvenile court in February 2016 when
police responded to a complaint regarding the conduct of an
occupant in a local hotel. In responding to the complaint,
the police found Jazie and her paramour in the hotel room
with J.M. The teenaged Jazie was staying in the hotel for a
week while she was transitioning into a new residence. At the
time the police found her in the hotel, Jazie had been
self-medicating with marijuana. Two of her close friends had
recently committed suicide. She had suffered and was
suffering from medical issues that restricted her physically
and caused her to lose her employment due to non-attendance.
The police found marijuana and a handgun. Jazie testified the
handgun belonged to her paramour. Jazie and her paramour were
arrested and charged with child endangerment and possession
of a controlled substance. IDHS removed J.M. from Jazie's
care at that time.
child was adjudicated in need of assistance in March of 2016.
At that time, IDHS put in place a plan for services to
reunify Jazie and J.M. The services included mental-health
treatment, substance-abuse treatment, parenting classes, and
visitation, among other things. At the time of the
adjudication hearing, Jazie was nineteen years old and J.M.
was one year old.
made significant progress toward reunification with the
child. She terminated her relationship with the paramour. She
began mental-health and substance-abuse treatment. She
obtained steady employment, including one full-time
management position and a second part-time position. She
obtained her own residence. The Family Safety, Risk, and
Permanency (FSRP) care coordinator testified the residence
was safe and appropriate for the child. Jazie attended
parenting classes, applied the lessons learned, and bettered
her parenting skills. The FSRP care coordinator testified the
visits between Jazie and J.M. improved greatly. Her visits
moved from supervised to semi- supervised.
suffered a setback in the fall and winter of 2016. In
September, she tested positive for use of marijuana. Her
visits were moved from semi- supervised back to supervised.
Nonetheless, in November 2016, the juvenile court deferred
permanency pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.104(2)(b)
because of Jazie's "increased participation in
services and follow through." Jazie continued with her
services after the permanency hearing. She also continued
with visitation three times a week for three hours each
visit. However, she tested positive for marijuana three times
between December 2016 and ...