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In re M.J.H.T.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 6, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF M.J.H.T., M.G.T., and M.D.T., Minor Children, C.T., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Craig M. Dreismeier, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Anne M. Rohling of Rohling Law, P.L.L.C., Council Bluffs, for appellant.

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

          Roberta Jean Penning Megal of Public Defender's Office, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights. We hold the mother's parental rights were properly terminated under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017) and that termination of the mother's parental rights is in the children's best interests. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         C.T. is the mother of M.J.H.T. ("the oldest child"), born in 2014, and M.G.T. and M.D.T. ("the twins"), born in May 2016. At the time of the twins' birth, the mother and the oldest child were living with the mother's mother and step-father. The twins tested positive for amphetamines and marijuana at their birth, and the mother tested positive for methamphetamines and marijuana. Shortly after the twins' birth, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) received a child protective services referral alleging the mother used methamphetamine while pregnant with the twins. DHS representatives met with the mother and her mother. At the time, an application for ex-parte order of temporary removal was filed with the juvenile court, the oldest child was at home with a safety plan in place wherein the mother's contact with the child was supervised by her maternal grandmother. The twins remained in intensive care at the hospital. A form ex-parte order for the temporary removal of all three children was entered ordering the removal of the children from their home and placing them in the temporary care, custody, and control of the DHS. After the order was entered, law enforcement removed the oldest child from her maternal grandparents' home and transported her to a shelter, where she spent less than twenty-four hours. She was then placed with a maternal aunt. M.D.T. was discharged from the hospital to a foster home. M.G.T. remained hospitalized to address feeding issues. After a temporary removal hearing, the juvenile court ordered "[t]hat the care, custody, and control of [the oldest child] remain with maternal aunt, subject to the supervision of the [DHS]." The care, custody, and control of the twins was ordered to "remain with the [DHS] for continued placement in hospital/shelter/foster care."

         The three children were later adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA). It was ordered that the care, custody, and control of oldest child be placed with her maternal grandparents. It was ordered that the care, custody, and control of the twins remain with the DHS for continued placement in foster care. This was the status quo at the time of the termination of parental rights hearing.

         Following the removal of her children, the mother attended a drug-treatment program. After an unsuccessful discharge, the mother twice attempted and twice failed to complete inpatient substance-abuse treatment. When not residing in a treatment facility, the mother lived place to place with no permanent housing.

         A termination of parental rights hearing was held on July 11, 2017. Although the mother appeared in person at the hearing, she did not testify. Subsequent to the hearing, the juvenile court terminated the ...


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