IN THE INTEREST OF R.S., N.H., and J.F., Minor Children, K.B., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W.
Seidlin, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
Jessica Maffitt of Benzoni Law Office, P.L.C., Des Moines,
for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Charles S. Fuson of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
mother appeals the district court's termination of her
parental rights to three of her children. She contends the
State failed to make reasonable efforts for reunification and
thereby failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence her
rights should be terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f) (2017). Additionally, the mother asserts
termination is not in the children's best interests and
the bond she has with the children should preclude
termination. We agree with the district court that reasonable
efforts were made to reunite the children with the mother.
Because of the mother's inability to safely care for the
children, in large part because of her use of illegal
substances, termination is appropriate under paragraph (f)
and is in the children's best interests. Therefore, we
affirm the order of the district court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
mother has five children: R.S., born in 2008; N.H., born in
2009; J.F., born in 2012; K.H.-A., born in 2015; and T.H.-A.,
born in 2016. The family came to the attention of the
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in January 2016 after
T.H.-A. was born and tested positive for THC. The mother
admitted to smoking marijuana while pregnant with T.H.-A. but
did not think it would harm the baby, as she admitted to
smoking marijuana while pregnant with her other children.
Because the mother was on probation at the time and in
violation of her probation agreement, she was arrested.
children were removed on January 29, 2016, and placed with
relatives. On March 11, 2016, the children were adjudicated
in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section
232.2(6)(c)(2) and 232.2(6)(n). The DHS provided services
including, substance-abuse evaluations, mental-health
evaluations, parenting classes, relative placement, therapy
referrals, transportation assistance, flex funding, and
housing resources. From March until December 2016, the mother
complied with services and progressed to semi-supervised
visitation with R.S., N.H., and J.F. On December 23, 2016,
the children were returned to the mother's custody.
on January 13, 2017, the children were removed from the
mother's custody after she provided a drug screen that
tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. After this
removal, the mother found it more difficult to engage with
the children and with offered services. On March 1, the
mother submitted to a hair stat test that was positive for
cocaine and a urine sample that tested positive for
marijuana. Nevertheless, at the permanency hearing, the
mother was given an additional six months-made retroactive
from January 17, 2017-to work towards reunification. Despite
this extension, the mother continued to miss scheduled
visitation and failed to submit to random drug screening.
When she finally did submit to drug testing-on March 24-she
again tested positive for cocaine. She also failed to
cooperate with drug screens requested on July 12 and August
termination of parental rights hearing was held on November 9
and 14, 2017. The district court terminated the mother's
parental rights to R.S., N.H., and J.F. under Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(f). The mother appeals.