IN THE INTEREST OF A.W., Minor Child, J.D., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals from an order terminating her parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017). AFFIRMED.
Poschner of Borseth Law Office, Altoona, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and John B. McCormally,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Charles S. Fuson of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
appeals from an order terminating her parental rights in her
child A.W. (born 2013). The juvenile court terminated
Jenifer's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f) (2017). Jenifer challenges the sufficiency of
the evidence supporting the statutory ground authorizing
termination of her parental rights and argues termination of
her parental rights was not in the best interest of her
has not preserved error with respect to any issue raised in
this appeal, or she has waived any challenge to the
termination of her parental rights. "[T]he general rule
that appellate arguments must first be raised in the trial
court applies to . . . termination of parental rights
cases." In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa
2012). Jenifer was present at the termination hearing, but
she did not contest the termination of her parental rights.
She did not challenge the State's evidence, she did not
testify, and she did not introduce any evidence on her
behalf. During closing argument, Jenifer's counsel did
not contest the termination of Jenifer's parental rights
but instead expressed Jenifer's hope the child might be
placed with a family member and Jenifer's hope one day
she would be able to have a relationship with the child.
Jenifer's failure to challenge the termination of her
parental rights in the juvenile court constitutes the failure
to preserve error and/or waiver. See In re M.L.H.,
No. 16-1216, 2016 WL 4803999, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 14,
2016); In re D.W., No. 14-0545, 2014 WL 2600358, at
*1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 11, 2014); In re C.T., No.
14-0243, 2014 WL 1714958, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 30,
2014); In re P.S., No. 11-0516, 2011 WL 2714169, at
*1 (Iowa Ct. App. July 13, 2011).
Jenifer had preserved error or not waived her claims, her
claims are unavailing. This court reviews termination
proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100,
110 (Iowa 2014). The statutory framework authorizing the
termination of a parent-child relationship is well
established and need not be repeated herein. See In re
P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010) (setting forth the
there is clear and convincing evidence authorizing the
termination of Jenifer's rights pursuant to Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(f). We have interpreted this provision to
require, among other things, "clear and convincing
evidence the child would be exposed to an appreciable risk
of adjudicatory harm if returned to the parent's custody
at the time of the termination hearing." In re
E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL 2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App.
June 21, 2017). The record reflects the child was removed
from the mother's care in August 2015. At that time, the
child tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.
Since the time of removal, Jennifer has not addressed her
substance-abuse condition and other concerns giving rise to
removal. She continued to use controlled substances
throughout the pendency of this case. Jenifer's
caseworker suspected Jenifer was under the influence during
Jenifer's last visit with A.W., just five days prior to
the termination hearing. In short, Jenifer's untreated
substance abuse caused physical harm to her child, precluded
her from being able to provide adequate care for her child,
and created an appreciable risk of harm to her child.
See, e.g., In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d at 776 (noting
drug addiction can render a parent unable to care for
children); In re L.S., No. 17-1824, 2018 WL 540968,
at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 24, 2018) (providing untreated
substance abuse can create a risk of harm to the children);
In re R.P., No. 16-1154, 2016 WL 4544426, at *2
(Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 31, 2016) (affirming termination of
parental rights of parent with history of drug abuse); In
re H.L., No. 14-0708, 2014 WL 3513262, at *3 (Iowa Ct.
App. July 16, 2014) (affirming termination of parental rights
when parent had history of substance abuse). Jenifer also has
significant untreated mental-health concerns, which prevent
her from providing appropriate care for the child. See,
e.g., In re D.B., No 14-1311, 2014 WL 5253077, at *4
(Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 15, 2014) (affirming termination of
parental rights where mother had untreated mental-health
condition); In re R.G., No. 14-1134, 2014 WL
6682335, at *2-3 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 26, 2014) (same); In
re T.P., 757 N.W.2d 267, 271 (Iowa Ct. App. 2008)
(affirming termination of parental rights where
non-compliance with recommended mental-health treatment posed
a risk to the child).
is also clear and convincing evidence termination of
Jenifer's rights is in the best interest of the child.
The primary concern in a termination proceeding is the best
interest of the child. See In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d
458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). We give consideration to
"the child's safety, to the best placement for
furthering the long-term nurturing and growth of the child,
and to the physical, mental, and emotional condition and
needs of the child." Iowa Code § 232.116(2). As a
general rule, "'the needs of a child are promoted by
termination of parental rights' if the grounds for
termination of parental rights exist." In re
L.M.F., 490 N.W.2d 66, 68 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992) (citation
omitted). Here, Jenifer showed over the course of two years
that she was unable to provide consistent care and nurturing
to A.W. Jenifer's demonstrated inability to provide
responsible and safe care for the child over an extended
period of time is the best indicator of her future ability-or
inability-to care for the child. See In re A.B., 815
N.W.2d at 778. We thus conclude the physical, mental, and
emotional needs of the child are best served by the
termination of Jenifer's parental rights.
affirm the juvenile court order terminating the ...