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In re B.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF B.R. and A.R., Minor Children, C.F., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F. Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children.

          Melody J. Butz of Butz Law Offices, PC, Center Point, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, Presiding Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children. We review termination proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). In doing so, we are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, although we give them weight, especially those concerning witness credibility. See id.

         I. Reasonable Efforts.

         The mother first argues the State failed to make reasonable efforts to avoid terminating her parental rights because the Department of Human Services (DHS) did not provide drug testing to accommodate her September 2016 move to Illinois. Although the State has an obligation to make reasonable efforts toward reunification of the family, "a parent has an equal obligation to demand other, different, or additional services prior to a permanency or termination hearing." In re A.A.G., 708 N.W.2d 85, 90 (Iowa Ct. App. 2005). The mother claims she preserved error on this issue by filing a timely notice of appeal. However, her failure to challenge the reasonableness of any services during the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings precludes her from raising this issue for the first time on appeal. See id.; In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999).

         Regardless, the record shows the mother failed to participate in the services the DHS offered her. The juvenile court noted:

[The mother] inconsistently participated in services and has been totally absent from offered services and the lives of her children for an extended period of time. For the past year she has not participated in any of the services included in the case plan and court orders. Efforts were made by the [DHS] to engage [the mother] in reunification services. Those efforts were not successful because of [the mother]'s unwillingness to participate in offered services, including even visitation.

         We find no merit in the mother's claim.

         II. Grounds ...


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