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In re K.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF K.A., Minor Child, S.W., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights.

          Jeannine L. Roberts, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and John McCormally, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Robin L. O'Brien Licht, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights.[1] She claims the State did not present clear and convincing evidence her child could not be returned home at the time of termination and challenges the finding she lacks the ability or willingness to respond to services. The mother also asserts termination is not in the child's best interest and her strong bond with the child should preclude termination. We find there was sufficient evidence to terminate her parental rights, termination is in the child's best interests, and the child's young age and early removal from the mother override any bond the mother claims to have. Accordingly, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         K.A., born November 2016, came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) shortly after his birth due to concerns for his wellbeing and safety after the mother left K.A. under the supervision of other individuals. The mother and the father are unmarried, no longer in a relationship, and have a history of domestic violence. The mother takes medication for mental-health issues that date back to previous termination proceedings with her older children and their respective fathers.[2] As with her previous relationships, most of which involved violence and no-contact orders, her relationship with K.A.'s father is not a healthy one. In December 2016, the father was arrested on a warrant for domestic violence against the mother that occurred in August 2016. Later that month, the no-contact order against the father was dropped; however, the mother, the father, and the father's new girlfriend continued to engage in verbal and physical altercations.

         On December 9, 2016, K.A. was removed from the mother's care. The child was placed with a foster family and remained there during the pendency of the case. K.A. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) on January 5, 2017.

         The mother was offered services to correct the circumstances that led to the adjudication. While the mother participated in some visits, was occasionally employed, and engaged in supportive housing model services, she struggled to stay consistent with her mental-health medication and avoid confrontations with the father and his new girlfriend. Because the mother's issues with domestic violence and mental health were not new, but rather they were continuations of the problems identified in her previous involvement with the DHS regarding her older children, the DHS was concerned with the mother's current ability to demonstrate and maintain the appropriate changes so that K.A. could be returned to her care.

         Coinciding with the CINA dispositional hearing on May 5, the State filed a petition to terminate the mother's parental rights, which came on for hearing on June 15, 2017. On October 3, 2017, the district court entered an order terminating the mother's rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (g) (2017). The mother appeals.

         II. ...


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