IN THE INTEREST OF M.F., Minor Child, N.F., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
D. Johnson of Borseth Law Office, Altoona, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
M. Vogan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem
for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
mother appeals the district court's termination of her
parental rights to her child, M.F. She asserts the State
failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence her rights
should be terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(e) and (h) (2017), termination is not in the
child's best interest, and her bond with the child should
preclude termination. Because the mother failed to correct
the many circumstances in her life that put the child at
risk, we affirm the order of the district court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) after M.F. was born, testing positive for
cannabinoids in his system. While the mother was at the
hospital following the child's birth, her paramour had to
be removed from the hospital by security for yelling and
screaming at the mother. After the mother was discharged from
the hospital, the paramour threatened the mother at her
residence, and he later admitted to beating the mother while
she was pregnant. On January 11, 2017, just seven days after
M.F. was born, the DHS attempted to remove M.F. from the
mother's care. However, the mother would not consent to
removal, and she fled suddenly with the child and was not
located for two days. Once located, M.F. was removed and
placed with a foster family.
February 14, the mother stipulated to M.F.'s adjudication
as a child in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code
section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o). The DHS provided
services, including substance-abuse evaluations and
treatment, mental-health evaluations and treatment, and
domestic-violence counselling. Following the CINA
adjudication, the mother complied with substance-abuse
services until April when she abruptly stopped, describing
the counselor as "rude and inappropriate." She
eventually entered another treatment program in May, but her
attendance was sporadic. She entered an inpatient treatment
program in mid-June but was dismissed from the program in
mid-July because of a poor attitude, defacing property, and
stealing. The mother attended three or four mental-health
appointments from April to July. The mother also received
domestic-violence services, but the last record of her
attendance was in April.
the July 14 permanency hearing, the mother avoided her DHS
caseworker. The mother did not notify the DHS that she was
staying at her sister's apartment or that she had been
the passenger in a car her abusive paramour was driving while
a no-contact order remained in effect. The DHS worker only
discovered these events after randomly seeing and conversing
with the mother at a shopping mall. With little if any
progress towards reunification being made, the State moved to
terminate the mother's parental rights. A contested
hearing was held on October 11, 2017, after which the
district court terminated the mother's parental rights to
M.F. under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and
The mother appeals.
Standard of Review
review termination proceedings de novo. In re A.M.,
843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). Weight is given to the
juvenile court's factual findings, especially when
considering the credibility of witnesses, but we are not
bound by those findings. Id. Our primary
consideration is the best interest of the child. In re
A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 776 (Iowa ...