IN THE INTEREST OF D.D. and J.D., Minor Children, C.D., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F.
Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.
mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her
parental relationship with her eight-year-old son and
R. Ramsey-Kacena, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Jennings Hoover, of Hoover Law Office P.C., Cedar Rapids,
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
time of the hearing on termination of parental rights,
eight-year-old D.D. and five-year-old J.D. had been removed
from their mother Christina's care for seventeen months
and had been impacted by their mother's substance abuse
since their births. Nevertheless, Christina asked the
juvenile court for additional time to work toward
reunification. The juvenile court declined the mother's
request, concluding adoption was the best permanent placement
for these children. Because our review of the record leads us
to the same conclusion, we affirm the order terminating
she was a teenager, Christina has struggled with addiction,
abusing methamphetamine, prescription opiates, heroin, and
cocaine. Her addiction compromised her parenting. Both D.D.
and J.D. tested positive for cocaine when they were born.
D.D. spent almost a year in foster care as an infant.
Christina completed two stints in residential treatment but
relapsed after each release.
instant case started in May 2016 when the children were
removed by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) from
Christina's care because she was living with several
known methamphetamine users and was personally abusing
methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. In September 2016,
Christina obtained a court-ordered psychological evaluation;
the psychologist diagnosed her with anxiety, depression,
stimulant-use disorder, opioid-use disorder, and unspecified
personality disorder. The psychologist opined that without
treatment Christina was "unlikely to be able to maintain
a drug-free emotionally stable life." But Christina did
not engage in the drug treatment as recommended. She also was
evicted from public housing because of criminal activity.
the fifteen months following the children's removal,
Christina failed to comply with drug testing because she was
still using methamphetamine. In August 2017, she nearly died
after taking a "cocktail" consisting of heroin,
cocaine, and benzodiazepines. She received attention in the
emergency room after the overdose and then moved to her third
residential treatment program. After a month of treatment,
her discharge form indicated she was in "the
contemplation state of change." A week after her
discharge, Christina relapsed on methamphetamine, which she
failed to report at her DHS family team meeting.
Also in August 2017, the State filed a petition to terminate
Christina's parental rights to D.D. and
In October 2017, the juvenile court held a hearing on the
State's petition. At the hearing, Christine acknowledged
she was not ready to resume care of D.D. and J.D.; instead
she asked the juvenile court "to give [her] a little
more time to prove [herself]." The juvenile court was
blunt yet eloquent in its refusal:
Christina asks the Court today to allow her additional time
for family reunification. She believes that in ten weeks she
will be able to safely resume care of her children. Christina
acknowledges that the Court granted additional time for
family reunification in May of 2017, and that until her
overdose in August she took no steps to regain custody of her
children. She shows little insight as to how the multiple
years of services provided to her and the multiple substance
abuse treatment programs and plans in place over those years
without sustained sobriety overshadows her unsupported
juvenile court issued an order terminating Christina's
parental rights under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f) and (l) ...