IN THE INTEREST OF J.B., Minor Child, H.S., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Barbara H.
Liesveld, District Associate Judge.
mother addicted to methamphetamine appeals the termination of
her parental rights to her seven-year-old son.
Annette F. Martin, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
R. Wiezorek of Jacobsen, Johnson & Wiezorek P.L.C., Cedar
Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
six, J.B. tested positive for methamphetamine after his
parents exposed him to the illegal drug. Based on that
exposure, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed
J.B. from his parents' care and adjudicated him as a
child in need of assistance (CINA) in September 2016. J.B.
has lived with his maternal step-grandmother since removal.
His mother, Halie, continued to use methamphetamine
throughout the CINA case. In December 2017, the juvenile
court terminated her parental rights citing Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f) and (l) (2017). Halie now
appeals, contending with more time, she could "address
her sobriety" and achieve reunification with J.B.
independently reviewing the record,  we agree with the juvenile
court's termination decision. The decision insightfully
summed up Halie's situation: "The court does not
doubt that Halie loves her son but she has failed to make the
necessary lifestyle changes to be a stable and sober parent
for him." The court emphasized Halie's belated
effort to address her addiction, waiting until just a month
before the termination hearing to seek inpatient
substance-abuse treatment. The State offered clear and
convincing evidence to satisfy the statutory grounds for
termination and a delay in permanency would not be in
J.B.'s best interests.
as here, the juvenile court rests its decision on more than
one subsection of Iowa Code section 232.116(1), we may affirm
on any ground supported by clear and convincing evidence.
D.W., 791 N.W.2d at 707. We will address paragraph
(f), which requires proof of the following elements: (1) the
child is four years of age or older; (2) the child has been
adjudicated a CINA under section 232.96; (3) the child has
been removed from the physical custody of the parents for at
least twelve of the last eighteen months, or for the last
twelve consecutive months and any trial period at home has
been less than thirty days; and (4) the State offered clear
and convincing evidence that at the present time the child
cannot be returned to the custody of the child's parents
as provided in section 232.102. Iowa Code §
232.116(1)(f). Halie contests only the fourth element,
asserting she can "succeed with her son in her
care" because despite her history of substance abuse
"she has shown the ability and desire to make positive
changes in her life." But she also acknowledges
"she needs more time" to provide a safe home for
her son "than the court has previously allotted."
phrase "at the present time" in subsection (f)(4)
means at the time of the termination hearing. Cf.
D.W., 791 N.W.2d at 707 (analyzing similar language
in subsection (h)(4)). J.B. could not have safely returned to
Halie's care in late November 2017 when the termination
petition came before the court. After her inpatient
substance-abuse treatment in October 2017, Halie did not
complete the transition program, instead returning to live
with a paramour who had been a trigger for her past drug use
and was not a safe person to associate with J.B. In addition,
Halie's patch tested positive for methamphetamine in
October 2017, and she was inconsistent in her fully
supervised visitation. In fact, at the termination hearing,
even Halie recognized she needed more time to secure stable
housing and to work on her sobriety. We find clear and
convincing evidence supported the juvenile court's
decision that J.B. could not be returned to Halie's
custody at the present time. See In re L.M., 904
N.W.2d 835, 839 (Iowa 2017) (noting mother's
"history of drug addiction and parenting
asks for a postponement because "[m]aking a dramatic
change such as the one required of [her] is lengthy and
complicated, but not impossible." While Halie has taken
early steps on her rehabilitation journey, "the journey
is a long one and it is far from complete." See
L.M., 904 N.W.2d at 840. Under section 232.104(2)(b),
the juvenile court may defer permanency only if it determines
the need for removal "will no longer exist at the end of
the additional six-month period." The record does not
support any further delay in moving J.B. toward adoption.
inconsistency frays J.B. The social worker testified J.B.
"knows that mom's late a lot so we kind of joke
about her being slower than molasses, " but when she
doesn't show up for visits at all "that was
hard" and "he broke down." The guardian ad
litem painted a similar picture, explaining J.B. "has
exhibited attachment issues. He has been let down when visits
or phone calls were cancelled." Given J.B's distress
from the current ...