IN THE INTEREST OF C.M. and E.M., Minor Children, C.E., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F.
Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.
mother appeals from the modification of placement and
R. Fiester of Law Office of David R. Fiester, Cedar Rapids,
for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids,
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
mother appeals from the court's modification of
disposition, transferring placement of the children, C.M. and
E.M., and changing permanency goals from reunification to the
modified placements. Custody and guardianship of C.M., born
May 2005, were transferred to her maternal uncle pursuant to
Iowa Code section 232.104(2)(d)(1) (2017). Custody and
guardianship of E.M., born March 2009, were transferred to
his father pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.104(2)(d)(2).
The court declined to proceed with termination of parental
rights. The mother argues the State failed to make reasonable
efforts towards reunification and that she should have been
granted an additional six months to achieve permanency.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
this action, the mother had physical custody of E.M. and the
father regularly exercised visitation. E.M.'s father, who
lives in North Dakota, has been involved in the child's
life and has shared joint legal custody with the mother.
C.M.'s biological father did not participate in these
proceedings and could not be located. The children and their
mother had previous involvement with the juvenile court
system in Illinois, where the children were removed as a
result of the mother's substance abuse. The mother
accused E.M.'s father of domestic abuse in Illinois, and
protective orders against both parties have been filed in
Illinois, North Dakota, and Iowa. The children were removed
for a period of over two years due to the mother's issues
with substance abuse. During that time, the children lived
with their uncle and grandfather, the same uncle who was
granted custody of C.M. in this action.
November 2016, in Iowa, the mother was charged with operating
while intoxicated and child endangerment when she drove
intoxicated with E.M. in the vehicle and left C.M., then
eleven years old, home alone. The court removed the children
to a foster home and adjudicated the children in need of
assistance (CINA). The dispositional order placed custody
with the Iowa Department of Human Services for purposes of
mother is a self-admitted alcoholic. She was required to
complete random drug testing, a substance-abuse evaluation,
and substance-abuse treatment and stay sober. She did not
show up for six out of her fourteen testing dates. In
February 2017, the family safety, risk, and permanency (FSRP)
worker found both full and empty alcohol bottles in the
mother's home. In March, C.M. complained that her mother
was intoxicated during a phone call. The mother is in
Alcoholics Anonymous and a church-sponsored substance-abuse
program. She attended substance-abuse treatment, but she was
discharged without completion in late June.
2017, the mother's father, who provided her with
financial and emotional support, passed away. C.M. believed
her mother to be intoxicated at the funeral and both children
reported that they felt their mother was getting upset with
them during phone calls during this time. The mother tested
positive for alcohol use on June 14, 2017.
children visited E.M.'s father from June 15 to July 15,
2017. After their visit, the mother's visits were delayed
when she refused to participate in visits where a particular
DHS worker was present. The mother claims the DHS worker was
turning her children against her, and she was encouraged to
speak to the worker's supervisor to resolve any issues.
While DHS reached out to the mother, the issues were not
resolved. The mother did not resume visits until late August.
At that time, the children requested that visits be fully
supervised since they had not spent time with their mother in
over two months. The mother did ...