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In re C.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 2, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF C.L., Minor Child, M.S., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Craig M. Dreismeier, District Associate Judge.

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

          Scott D. Strait, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Maura C. Goaley, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her daughter, asserting the State failed to prove the grounds for termination and the court should not have found termination was in the best interests of the child. The mother also asserts she should have been given additional time to work toward reunification. Because we agree with the district court that the child could not be returned to the mother at the time of the termination hearing, that termination was in the best interests of the child, and there are no impediments to termination, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         C.L., born in February 2017, came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) when she was born with amphetamines in her system. The DHS allowed the child to return home with the mother, but the mother admitted to using methamphetamine just one week after giving birth to C.L. On February 14, C.L. was placed in the care, custody, and control of the DHS. The DHS offered the mother services including visitation, random drug screens, and substance-abuse evaluations and recommended treatment. On April 25, C.L. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o) (2017).

         C.L. remained in the care of the DHS while the mother attempted to treat her substance-abuse issues. In March, the mother began attending an outpatient program, but after two weeks her attendance became sporadic. In April, the mother entered an inpatient treatment program but left after three days. Then, in May, the mother entered another inpatient treatment program but left after two days. In the middle of May, the mother successfully rejoined the same inpatient program but she again left after one week. The mother did not engage in other services until September, when she received a substance-abuse evaluation. She did not follow through with the recommendations within the thirty-day timeframe, and she was required to obtain another evaluation in October. Again, the mother did not follow through with the recommendations within thirty days. During this time, the mother continuously failed to report for scheduled drug screens. With no sustained progress toward reunification, the State petitioned to have the mother's parental rights terminated. The matter came on for hearing on January 10, 2018, after which the mother's parental rights were terminated under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e), (h), and (l).

         The mother appeals.[1]

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review of termination proceedings is de novo, giving weight to the district court's fact findings but not being bound by them. In ...


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