IN THE INTEREST OF A.H., Minor Child, S.L., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L.
Black, Associate Juvenile Judge.
mother appeals the order terminating her parental rights.
C. Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Nico of the Juvenile Public Defender Office, Waterloo,
guardian ad litem.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
was born in December 2009. The family came to the attention
of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) after reports
the mother had relapsed with methamphetamine. The mother and
father had previously had their rights terminated to
A.H.'s older sibling in 2007. On April 29, 2016, A.H. was
removed from his parents' care, adjudicated a child in
need of assistance, and the mother's parental rights were
eventually terminated in September of 2017.
mother was not compliant with substance-abuse treatment and
only partially compliant with mental-health treatment. In
October 2016, the mother was charged with possession of a
controlled substance and placed on probation. The mother
failed substance-abuse treatment and was discharged. When she
returned to the program after approximately a month, she
participated for a few sessions but stopped attending. After
moving several times the mother only participated in
mental-health treatment, not substance-abuse treatment. In
2017, the mother missed a number of drug tests and those she
did take were uniformly positive for methamphetamine.
mother has been unable to secure stable housing or
employment. Between the termination hearing and the hearing
set for closing arguments, the mother's probation was
revoked and at the time of the termination order, she was
living in a residential treatment facility where A.H. could
the case, A.H. was placed with the maternal aunt and uncle
and has lived with them for more than a year. The mother
progressed to semi-supervised and unsupervised visitation
with A.H. before her probation was revoked. On September 9,
2017, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental
rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e), (f), (g),
and (l) (2017). The mother now appeals.
scope of review is de novo in termination cases. In re
D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). Clear and
convincing evidence is needed to establish the grounds for
termination. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa
2006). Where there is clear and convincing evidence, there is
no serious or substantial doubt about the correctness of the
conclusion drawn from the evidence. In re D.D., 653
N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). We give weight to the juvenile
court's findings of fact but are not bound by them.
In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000). The
highest concern in termination proceedings is the best
interests of the children. In re L.L., 459 N.W.2d
489, 493 (Iowa 1990).
the juvenile court terminates a parent's rights on more
than one ground, "we need only find termination
appropriate under one of these sections to affirm."
In re J.B.L., 844 N.W.2d 703, 704 (Iowa Ct. App.
2014). In order to terminate parental rights under section
232.116(1)(f), (1) the child must be four years old or older,
(2) the child must have been adjudicated in need of
assistance, (3) the child must have been removed from the
home for at least twelve of the last eighteen months, or for
the last twelve consecutive months with any period at home
being less than thirty days, and (4) the child cannot be
returned to the home as provided in section 232.102. The
mother claims A.H. could have been returned to her care at
the time of termination. This statement is untrue as the
mother's probation had been revoked and she had been
placed in a residential treatment facility where A.H. could
not reside. We find the evidence was sufficient to terminate
her parental rights.
mother also claims termination is not in the best interests
of the child. She claims A.H. is so bonded to her termination
would cause damage to the child's mental and emotional
health. A.H. was removed from the mother's care due to
the mother's chronic substance abuse. The mother was
unable and unwilling to address her substance-abuse issues.
A.H. has been placed with relatives in a stable and secure
environment. Any emotional distress termination may cause is
greatly outweighed by the opportunity A.H. will receive by
being raised in a stable and ...