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In re D.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF D.H., D.H., AND M.V., Minor Children, M.V., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D. Belcher, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights.

          Alexandra M. Nelissen of Taylor Law Offices, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Cole J. Mayer of Mayer Law, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, guardian ad litem for D.H.

          Sharon M. Wegner of Graham, Ervanian & Cacciatore, L.L.P., Des Moines, guardian ad litem for D.H.

          Nancy L. Pietz of Pietz Law Office, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for M.V.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. We find the mother has waived her claim the State did not engage in reasonable efforts to reunite her with her children. There is sufficient evidence in the record to support the termination of the mother's parental rights and termination is in the children's best interests. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         M.V. is the mother of M.V., born in 2001, Do.H., born in 2005, and De.H., born in 2006. The family lived with Da.H., who was the father of the two younger children. Da.H. sexually abused De.H. over a period of many years.[1] De.H. informed her mother of the abuse, but the mother said the father had an illness and the child should "let it go." Although the mother was aware of the sexual abuse, she did not do anything to prevent it. Eventually the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became aware of the situation and the children were removed from the parents' care on February 25, 2016, and placed in foster care.

         The children were adjudicated to be in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b), (c)(2), (d), and (n) (2016). The mother pled guilty to neglect of a dependent person and child endangerment. A no-contact order was entered prohibiting her from having contact with the children. This was later modified to permit her to send letters to the children, which were to be read in the presence of a therapist. The mother began attending individual therapy. She "continued . . . to explore her responsibility in the removal of her children." She has not yet fully accepted her role in the abuse which led to the removal of the children and her criminal convictions.

         The children's guardians ad litem filed petitions seeking to terminate the mother's parental rights. After a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(d), (e), (f), (i), and (m) (2017). The court found termination of the mother's parental rights was in the children's best interests, stating the mother "continues to demonstrate an inability to meet the ...


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