IN THE INTEREST OF L.B., Minor Child, S.B., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
appeals from an order terminating her parental rights in her
child pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017).
W. Manning of Manning Law Office, P.L.L.C., Urbandale, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
the mother, appeals from an order terminating her parental
rights in her child pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2017). This is the second time this
matter has been before the court. In a prior appeal, we
affirmed the adjudication and disposition orders involving
this same family. See In re L.B., No. 16-1520, 2016
WL 6664987, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 9, 2016).
court reviews proceedings terminating parental rights de
novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa
2014). To terminate a parent's rights, the State must
first prove a statutory ground authorizing termination of a
parent's rights. See Iowa Code §
232.116(1); In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa
2016). Next, the State must prove termination of a
parent's rights is in the child's best interest.
M.W., 876 N.W.2d at 219-20. Finally, the court
decides whether permissive considerations in section
232.116(3) should preclude termination of a parent's
rights. Id. at 220.
of background, Shawna is the mother of L.B., a child born in
2004. The family came to the attention of the Iowa Department
of Human Services (IDHS) in March 2016. There was a report
Shawna and her husband, Jason, who is not L.B.'s father,
had used methamphetamine in the home while the child was
present. There was also a report L.B. had been sexually
assaulted by an acquaintance of the couple. When asked about
the allegations, L.B. confirmed them. L.B. described drug
paraphernalia. The child reported a sexual assault. L.B. also
reported a spanking by Jason with a belt, which left lasting
bruises. The child was removed from the home and placed with
an adult sibling.
contested adjudication hearing took place in May and June
2016. Shawna and Jason were homeless and living with a
registered sex offender. Neither Shawna nor Jason was
employed. Before becoming homeless, they had operated a
"street ministry." As part of their ministry, they
brought homeless individuals into their home. This included
the alleged perpetrator of the sexual assault on L.B. The
district court noted indicators of methamphetamine abuse by
Shawna and Jason, although they continued to deny use. Shawna
had missed multiple visits with L.B. and struggled with being
appropriate during visits. She often told L.B. information
inappropriate for a child. The court found L.B. to be a child
in need of assistance (CINA) and ordered Shawna provide drug
screens and undergo a mental-health evaluation and
time of the dispositional hearing and review hearing, Shawna
had not progressed significantly. She had obtained a stable
residence with her mother. However, she had missed nine drug
screens, had not started therapy, and despite her assurances
to the contrary, appeared to still be in a relationship with
Jason. Shawna had not progressed in her relationship with
L.B. Shawna was unpredictable and inappropriate around the
June 2017 termination hearing, the court heard extensive
evidence about the relationship between Shawna and L.B.
L.B.'s therapist testified about the child's repeated
statements expressing a desire to live with the adult sibling
and not with Shawna. The therapist also raised concerns about
Shawna harming L.B.'s mental health with her
unpredictability and inappropriate comments about things such
as L.B.'s weight. Shawna, through her testimony,
continued to minimize the issues that led to L.B.'s
removal. While Shawna made progress from
to June, she acknowledged that she "changed [her]
attitude late." Other testimony highlighted missed
visits, L.B.'s anxiety over visitation, missed drug
screens, and Shawna's frequent excuses for failing to
complete IDHS case plan objectives. ...