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In re E.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 4, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF E.S., Minor Child, A.S., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, born in 2017. AFFIRMED.

          Jessica A. Millage of Flanagan Law Group, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

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

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

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, born in 2017. She contends (1) the record lacks clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds for termination cited by the district court, (2) termination was not in the child's best interests, and (3) the "relative exception" should apply.

         I. Grounds for Termination

         The district court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) and (h) (2017). We may affirm if we find either ground was supported by clear and convincing evidence. In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010). We will focus on section 232.116(1)(h).

         This provision requires proof a child three years of age or younger has been adjudicated in need of assistance, has been removed from the parent for at least six of the last twelve months, and cannot be returned to the parent's custody. Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(h).

         The mother has a history of substance abuse. Over the years, she abused alcohol, marijuana, sleeping pills, Adderall, and muscle relaxers. In time, she transitioned to methamphetamine. By 2016, her parental rights to an older child had been terminated "due to untreated substance abuse issues."

         This child was born with amphetamines in her system. With the mother's consent, the district court ordered the child removed from her custody. The department of human services placed the child with her maternal grandfather and step-grandmother, as requested by the mother. The child remained in their care throughout the proceedings.

         The mother stipulated to adjudication of the child as a child in need of assistance. She began inpatient drug treatment after being diagnosed with severe amphetamine use disorder. She struggled to attend programming. After five months, she had yet to obtain a sponsor. During her sixth month at the facility, the mother admitted to relapsing on methamphetamine. At her behest, she was placed ...


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