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In re L.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 4, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF L.G., Minor Child, A.S., Mother, Appellant J.G., Father, Appellant.

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

         A father and mother separately appeal the juvenile court order terminating their parental rights.

          Katherine M. Hartman Eastvold, Coralville, for appellant mother.

          Kristin L. Denniger, Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.

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

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

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the juvenile court decision terminating their parental rights. We find there was sufficient evidence to terminate parental rights, the juvenile court properly declined to apply exceptions to termination, and termination is in the best interests of the child. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The mother began using drugs, primarily methamphetamine, around age eleven, and the father also reported beginning to use drugs in his early adolescence, including heroin and methamphetamine.[1] L.G. was born in June 2017. L.G. and the mother tested positive for methamphetamine at the time of the birth; the father would not consent to a drug test. L.G. was removed from the parents on June 5 and placed in foster care. L.G. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance on June 8.

         The mother has struggled with maintaining sobriety. She has repeatedly tested positive for methamphetamine although she participated in a variety of substance-abuse treatment programs. The mother attended visits with L.G. consistently and provided formula, diapers, and clothing for L.G. The mother was in jail at the time of the termination hearing with a pending probation revocation, along with new charges of forgery and theft. She acknowledged she would not be able to resume care of L.G. at the time of the hearing. The mother also admitted her relationship with the father involved instances of domestic violence, though both the mother and father attempted to minimize its impact. The juvenile court found the parents did not follow through on recommended services.

         The father refused to comply with drug testing at the time of the birth. However, he later admitted to heroin and marijuana use. Eventually, he completed a substance-abuse evaluation and attended some treatment. Even after treatment he continued to have positive drug screens, though he consistently attended services. The father had a pending charge of delivery of a controlled substance as a habitual offender. By his own admission, he used heroin and methamphetamine approximately one week before the termination hearing but was adamant he was not addicted.

         The termination hearing was held December on 22. The parents' parental rights were terminated on ...


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