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In re D.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF D.M., Minor Child, A.D., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan C. Cox, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals from an order terminating her parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017).

          Tammy M. Westhoff Gentry of Parrish, Kruidenier, Dunn, Boles, Gribble, Cook, Parrish, Gentry & Fisher L.P., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Brent M. Pattison of Drake Legal Clinic, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         Ariana appeals from the order terminating her parental rights in her child, D.M. Ariana raises two challenges on appeal. She argues the evidence is insufficient to support termination of her parental rights. She also argues guardianship is a better alternative to termination of her parental rights.

         I.

         Ariana is the mother of D.M. (born 2010). The family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) in August 2016 when it was reported Ariana was abusing controlled substances, including the abuse of prescription pills. The child reported the mother regularly crushed pills, injected substances, and passed out in the child's presence. D.M.'s maternal grandmother corroborated Ariana's drug use. In addition to Ariana's intravenous drug use in the presence of her child, IDHS had concerns regarding Ariana's ability to meet the basic needs of the child due to Ariana's joblessness and homelessness. The father was in federal prison at the time these concerns arose and not available to care for the child. D.M. was removed from Ariana's care and placed with the maternal grandparents.

         By the time of the termination hearing in October 2017, Ariana had not addressed the concerns giving rise to removal. She commenced outpatient substance-abuse treatment in October 2016 and had some success. However, Ariana did not complete the treatment. In December 2016, Ariana reported symptoms of anxiety and depression and told workers she was prescribed hydrocodone for pain relief for her teeth. She subsequently failed to comply with drug testing in February, March, April, and May 2017. Shortly before the termination hearing, Ariana tested positive for opiates and oxycodone. There were other reports the mother had been using methamphetamine intravenously. It was clear from the evidence presented at the termination hearing that Ariana was doctor shopping and abusing morphine and oxycodone, among other things. In addition, it was clear Ariana was in denial regarding her substance-abuse addiction. At the time of the termination hearing, Ariana remained unemployed and homeless. She testified she had been living with a friend for a few weeks, although she could not recall the address.

         The juvenile court terminated Ariana's parental rights in D.M. pursuant to section 232.116(1)(f) (2017). Ariana timely filed this appeal.

         II.

         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 ...


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