IN THE INTEREST OF T.W., Minor Child, A.P., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Carroll County, Adria
Kester, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating the
parental relationship with her two-year-old son.
E. Hobbs, West Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General for appellee.
Jessica L. Morton of Bruner, Bruner & Reinhart, L.L.P.,
Carroll, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
addiction to methamphetamine and abuse of prescription
painkillers resulted in her son T.W. being twice removed from
her care and adjudicated as a child in need of assistance
(CINA). The second CINA case ended in the termination of her
parental rights. Angela appeals the juvenile court's
termination ruling, alleging she has successfully engaged in
treatment and has demonstrated parenting strengths. Our
independent review of the record reveals unaddressed risks
posed by Angela's substance abuse that prevent her from
safely resuming care of T.W. Accordingly, we affirm the
Facts and Prior Proceedings
was born in February 2015 with methamphetamine in his system-
prompting the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to
remove him from his mother's care and adjudicate him as a
CINA. The DHS approved a trial home placement in November
2015 and closed the CINA case in February 2016. But five days
later, the DHS discovered Angela was abusing prescription
medication-Oxycodone pills and Fentanyl patches-while caring
for T.W. Case workers implemented a safety plan, including
twice-daily drop-in services. One month later, Angela was
found unresponsive in her apartment after a medication
overdose. One-year-old T.W. was found alone in the hallway. A
child protection assessment resulted in a founded report for
the denial of critical care. The DHS again removed T.W. from
his mother's care, placed him with maternal grandparents,
and opened a new CINA case in April 2016.
sought substance-abuse treatment in the summer of 2016. But
by her own admission, because it was outpatient treatment,
she "was sneaking and using here and there." Angela
started inpatient substance-abuse treatment at the YWCA in
October 2016. She stayed drug-free for two months.
November 2016 permanency order, the juvenile court continued
placement of T.W. for "an additional period of up to six
months" under Iowa Code section 232.104(2)(b) (2016) to
allow Angela more time to achieve reunification. The DHS
placed T.W. with Angela at the YWCA for an extended
trial-home visit in December 2016. Soon after gaining
unsupervised visitation with T.W., Angela relapsed on
methamphetamine while meeting up with T.W.'s father. In
early 2017, the DHS case workers learned Angela was pregnant
with her fourth child; when that child, T.P., was born in
April 2017, he tested positive for
State filed a petition for termination of parental rights in
May 2017. Despite the pending termination action, the DHS
allowed Angela an extended unsupervised visitation in early
June. Just two days into the visitation, a police officer
discovered T.W. sleeping unattended in a locked car outside
of Angela's workplace. The officer knew the location to
be a high-crime area of Fort Dodge. The officer reported
fifteen minutes passed before he could locate Angela. Angela
insisted she was gone only four minutes and T.W. was not in
danger because she cracked the windows and parked in the
shade. The DHS removed the child and placed him in his
grandparents' care. DHS social worker Molli Mandernach
testified she was "very alarmed" by Angela's
decision and believed Angela would have been "extra
vigilant" during the trial-home placement. Mandernach
aptly described the unfortunate phenomenon: "Every time
I've attempted to begin expanding her contact with him on
an unsupervised basis, it has not worked, we've gotten
ourselves into a dangerous situation."
juvenile court held a combined permanency and
termination-of-parental-rights hearing on June 22 and August
10, 2017. Angela testified about her addiction to
methamphetamine, asserting she had "six months and five
days clean." But she also acknowledged last using
Fentanyl in May 2017 and using Hydrocodone just two days
before the hearing. Angela also discussed receiving
mental-health counseling for depression and anxiety.
Mandernach recommended ...