Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re I.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 25, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF I.A., Minor Child, L.F.H., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton Ploof, District Associate Judge.

         A mother challenges the termination of her parental relationship with her now three-year-old daughter. AFFIRMED.

          Carrie E. Coyle of Carrie E. Coyle, P.C., Davenport, for appellant mother.

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

          Brenda L. Drew-Peeples of Drew-Peeples Law Firm, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         "Parents need to be gatekeepers." In that nub of its ruling, the juvenile court explained why three-year-old I.A. cannot be safely reunited with her mother, Laura. In its order terminating parental rights, the juvenile court offered a balanced accounting of Laura's strengths and weaknesses as a parent. But ultimately the court decided Laura's inability to assess the risk of harm posed by dangerous individuals stood in the way of reunification with her daughter. After reviewing the record, [1] we reach the same decision as the juvenile court and affirm the termination order.

         Laura challenges the statutory grounds for termination and alleges the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) did not live up to its mandate to provide best efforts toward reunification because the caseworker failed to increase visitation. Highlighting her strong bond with I.A., Laura also argues termination was not in the child's best interests.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         I.A.'s mother, Laura, has mild intellectual disabilities and has been diagnosed with anxiety, panic disorder, narcissistic personality traits, and depression. The juvenile court determined that Laura's mental-health issues have led her to make "extremely bad choices" concerning the well-being and safety of her daughter. In August 2015, the DHS received reports of mutual domestic violence occurring between Laura and her boyfriend Chad[2] while I.A. was present. In November 2015, authorities removed then one-year-old I.A. from Laura's care. The removal order noted the turbulent relationship between Laura and Chad, as well as Chad's history of child abuse. The DHS placed I.A. with a foster-care family where she has stayed for the duration of the case. In early March 2016, the juvenile court adjudicated I.A. as a child in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(1), 232.2(6)(c)(2), 232.2(6)(d), and 232.2(6)(n) (2016).

         At the time of the CINA adjudication, the mother was not attending to her mental-health needs and was abusing controlled substances. But after the adjudication, Laura embraced the services offered by the DHS. Her FSRP (family safety, risk and permanency) worker recalled Laura's "willingness to participate in anything suggested" to help her become a better parent. The FSRP worker also found Laura was well-prepared, "very attentive, " and nurturing during her supervised visitations with I.A.

         In a permanency order issued in late December 2016, the juvenile court expressed its belief that Laura "could actually reunify with her daughter if given additional time." The court noted Laura was attending to her mental-health needs, had ended her relationship with Chad, and completed substance-abuse treatment. The court continued: "Most significant is that Laura demonstrates good parenting in a supervised setting." But the court also sounded concerns about the mother's continuing "chaotic" personal relationships and her struggle to maintain her emotional stability.

         In a January 2017 report, I.A.'s guardian ad litem (GAL) highlighted some additional worries about Laura's stability. Notably, Laura was pregnant and involved with a new paramour, but she had not provided the DHS with background information about any individuals who might have interactions with I.A.[3] The GAL also expressed concern that Laura was "currently not addressing her mental health issues with therapy." Considering the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.