IN THE INTEREST OF D.H.-W., Minor Child, M.H., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Buena Vista County, Mary L.
McCollum Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
L. Minnihan of Minnihan Law Firm, Onawa, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
K. Mazurek of Miller, Miller, Miller, P.C., Cherokee,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.
mother appeals the termination of her parental
rights. We find the termination was supported by
clear and convincing evidence and termination is in the best
interest of the child. We affirm the juvenile court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
was born in 2014. D.H.-W.'s siblings, born in 1996 and
2006, were previously adjudicated as Children in Need of
Assistance (CINA) and removed from the mother's care in
response to substance-abuse issues, domestic-violence
concerns, and the mother's inability to maintain stable
employment and housing. The mother's parental rights to
the older children were not terminated. However, while
pregnant with D.H.-W. the mother continued to use controlled
substances. After D.H.-W.'s birth, domestic violence
returned to the mother's home. D.H.-W.'s father was
charged with two counts of domestic abuse assault and
harassment in the first degree.
petition was filed December 22, 2015, concerning D.H.-W. due
to domestic violence and substance abuse. Prior to the CINA
hearing, the mother, grandmother, and the mother's adult
child were arrested and charged with delivery of prescription
drugs. During the drug buy, D.H.-W. was in the care of a
friend with a lengthy criminal history, including charges of
domestic abuse. It was also determined that during previous
drug buys, D.H.-W. was present in the vehicle.
was adjudicated CINA in February 2016. The mother scheduled a
substance-abuse evaluation and therapy. D.H.-W. was placed in
foster care as neither parent was able to care for the child.
The mother began supervised visitation. At a permanency
review hearing, the mother showed improvement. She was
cooperative with treatment, was working part-time, and had
begun to remove herself from individuals who triggered her
substance-abuse issues. The mother consistently attended
family treatment court. When safety issues at her home were
pointed out, the mother showed commitment to addressing those
problems, and she showed interest in learning to meet
D.H.-W.'s needs. The mother actively engaged with D.H.-W.
during visits and showed a strong bond with the child. Seeing
the significant improvement made by the mother, the juvenile
court allowed the mother an additional six months to work
juvenile court set a hearing for modification of permanency
for April 4, 2017. At the time of the hearing, the mother had
finally secured an apartment, but had not fully moved in. The
juvenile court expressed concern regarding the mother's
unhealthy relationships with her mother and her adult child,
as the three would often use illegal substances together.
However, the mother no longer suffered from chronic pain,
owned her own vehicle, and had a valid driver's license.
termination hearing was held July 20. Earlier in the month,
the mother went camping with her two older children, her
father and mother, and her brother and sister-in-law. The
mother had previously identified her sister-in-law as a
negative person she should not associate with. During the
trip, illegal substances were used although the mother claims
she did not partake. A fight between the mother's adult