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In re A.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 20, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R., Minor Child, A.R., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Amanda J. Heims, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender Office, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her daughter, A.R. She asserts the State did not establish the statutory elements by clear and convincing evidence, termination was not in the best interest of the child, and the court erred in not granting a continuance. We conclude the State proved the elements for termination, including that A.R. had been out of the mother's care for more than six months and could not be returned to the mother's care at the time of the termination hearing. The mother has been unable to put A.R.'s needs before her own, and any bond she has with the child does not override the need for termination. Additionally, the court did not err in denying the motion to continue because A.R. needs permanency and stability in her life without further delay. Consequently, we affirm the order of the district court.[1]

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         A.R. was born November 2015 while the mother was incarcerated on a drug-related conviction. The mother has a history with illegal drugs and allegedly allowed people with felony warrants to stay at her home to evade law enforcement. While incarcerated the mother was allowed to keep A.R. with her until the mother's release and subsequent probation. A.R. then came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in November 2016 after she had ingested an unknown substance and began to have seizures. She tested positive for methamphetamine in her system. On November 10, 2016, the juvenile court held a removal hearing and a removal order was entered, placing A.R. with the child's maternal aunt. On November 22, the mother was arrested by federal authorities for the distribution of methamphetamine.

         On February 15, 2017, A.R. was adjudicated as a child in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o) (2016). On March 7, the court entered a dispositional order allowing the aunt continued custody of A.R., ordering the mother to undergo further substance-abuse treatment, and adopting the permanency goal of reunification, concurrent with adoption. On August 2, a review order was entered changing the permanency goal to termination.

         On August 4, the State filed a petition for termination of parental rights. The mother filed a motion to continue, indicating federal sentencing on her drug distribution charge had not occurred and would impact the juvenile court's ruling in the termination. The juvenile court denied the mother's motion.

         On September 6, the State filed trial informations against the mother accusing her of (1) child endangerment causing bodily injury and neglect or abandonment of a dependent person in relation to A.R., and (2) assault causing bodily injury or mental illness while she was incarcerated following her arrest for distribution of methamphetamine.

         On September 26, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's rights to A.R. pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), ...


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