IN THE INTEREST OF H.B. and L.G., Minor Children, B.M., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt,
District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to two
K. DeRonde of DeRonde Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Johnston, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State. Charles E. Isaacson of
Charles Isaacson Law, P.C., Des Moines, guardian ad litem for
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
serially abused mother with a history of substance abuse and
mental illness appeals the termination of her parental rights
to two children, born in 2012 and 2014. She challenges the
ground for termination cited by the juvenile court and raises
several other issues. We find her challenge to the
termination ground dispositive.
Background Facts and Proceedings
children were removed from the mother's care in 2015
after she left them with relatives and failed to provide the
relatives with medical releases. The State petitioned to have
the children adjudicated in need of assistance under several
statutory grounds. The juvenile court granted the petition
but dismissed one of the statutory grounds-Iowa Code section
232.2(6)(b) (2017)-"pursuant to oral motion of the
State." Section 232.2(6)(b) defines a child in need of
assistance as a child "[w]hose parent, guardian, other
custodian, or other member of the household in which the
child resides has physically abused or neglected the child,
or is imminently likely to abuse or neglect the child."
mother cooperated with reunification services and, in time,
the juvenile court ordered the children returned to her care.
The children remained with her for seven months. During that
time, the mother's cooperation waned and she failed to
appear at review hearings. The juvenile court ordered the
children transferred to the department's custody.
State petitioned to terminate the mother's parental
rights. Notwithstanding its prior dismissal of the section
232.2(6)(b) ground for adjudication, the State alleged
"the Court has previously adjudicated the children to be
[children] in Need of Assistance within the meaning of
Section 232.2(6)(b)." The State sought termination of
the mother's parental rights pursuant to section
232.116(1)(d) and several other statutory provisions. The
other provisions required removal of the children for a
specified period of time. In light of the seven-month
reunification of the children with their mother, the time
frame in those provisions was not satisfied.
termination hearing, it became apparent that section
232.116(1)(d) was the only pled termination ground on which
the State could rely. To prove "physical abuse or
neglect, " the State pointed to the mother's
decision to leave the children with relatives and her failure
to provide medical releases. The State also cited evidence of
a 2005 order terminating the mother's parental rights to
an older child. This order was partially grounded on physical
abuse or neglect of the child under section 232.2(6)(b) and
termination under section 232.116(1)(d).
juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights
pursuant to section 232.116(1)(d). This appeal followed.