IN THE INTEREST OF T.H. and S.B., Minor Children, A.B., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Robert J.
Dull, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017).
B. Brock II of Law Office of Robert B. Brock II, P.C., Le
Mars, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Thali of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, guardian ad litem
for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
pursues this appeal from an order terminating her parental
rights in her two children, T.H. (born 2010) and S.B. (born
2013). Abby does not challenge the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting the statutory ground authorizing the
termination of her parental rights. Instead, she argues
termination of her parental rights is not in the best
interest of her children. As part of the same argument, she
also seems to argue the department of human services failed
to make reasonable efforts to reunite the family, termination
is inappropriate because the children are in the care of
relatives, and the prospect of a guardianship makes
review is de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100,
110 (Iowa 2014). The statutory framework authorizing
termination of parental rights is well-established, and we
need not repeat it in full herein. See In re P.L.,
778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010) (setting forth three-part
framework). As part of its case, the State must prove
termination of the parent's rights is in the best
interest of the child. See In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d
212, 219-20 (Iowa 2016).
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (IDHS) after it was reported Abby and her husband
Justin were using methamphetamine while caring for the
children. Justin tested positive for methamphetamine. Abby
tested negative for any controlled substances. Initially, the
children remained in the home, and Justin agreed to
participate in substance-abuse counseling. After Justin
tested positive again, he was asked to leave the family home
in February 2016. The children continued to reside with Abby
during this time, although IDHS noted concerns with
Abby's mental health, minimization of Justin's drug
usage, and difficulty keeping appointments. Abby was ordered
to participate in mental-health services and drug testing,
among other things.
2016, after already receiving a warning, Abby admitted she
was allowing Justin to see the children outside of supervised
visitation even though Justin was using methamphetamine
daily. After Abby's admission, the children were removed
from her care. T.H. was placed with his biological father,
David. S.B. was initially placed in foster care but
ultimately was placed with T.H.'s biological father to
keep the siblings together.
removal, Abby's conduct began to deteriorate. In August,
Abby was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia,
including a glass pipe and a baggie with methamphetamine
residue. She entered substance-abuse treatment, but she
unsuccessfully discharged in September. After her discharge
from treatment, Abby failed to comply with random drug
testing. She was inconsistent in attending appointments and
in visiting the children.
continued to struggle throughout 2017. She stopped her
mental-health treatment. She did not participate in drug
testing. She was inconsistent in attending substance-abuse
treatment. She also continued to defend her contact with
Justin despite his methamphetamine use. The nadir occurred in
February 2017 when Abby was arrested for possession of drug
paraphernalia, driving with a suspended license, and
possession of methamphetamine. At that point, the juvenile
court directed the State to file a petition to terminate
parental rights, which the juvenile court granted following a
primary concern in a termination proceeding is the best
interest of the children. See In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d
458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). In determining what is in the
best interest of the children, we consider both the immediate
and long-term interest of the children. See In re
L.M.F., 490 N.W.2d 66, 67 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992).
"Insight for the determination of the child's
long-range best interests can be gleaned from 'evidence
of the parent's past performance for that performance may
be indicative of the quality of the future care that parent
is capable of providing.'" In re A.B., 815
N.W.2d 764, 778 (Iowa 2012) (citation omitted). As a general
rule, "'the needs ...