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In re L.K.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 20, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF L.K., J.K., C.C., and M.C., Minor Children, J.K., 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 children.

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

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

          Maura C. Goaley of Maura C. Goaley, Attorney at Law, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          DOYLE, Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her four children. She contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with the children. She also contends that termination is not in the children's best interests.

         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.

         The mother has a long history of involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), with four child-abuse assessments completed between 2004 and 2010 finding the mother denied her children critical care due to her methamphetamine use. After the DHS received reports in December 2016 that the mother was using methamphetamine intravenously in the home, the juvenile court entered an order removing the children from her care. In the fourteen months that followed, the mother failed to complete substance-abuse treatment, remained unemployed, lost her housing, was arrested, and was jailed until she bonded out. The State filed a petition seeking to terminate her parental rights in December 2017. Following a hearing in February 2018, the juvenile court granted the State's petition.

         In order to terminate parental rights, the juvenile court must first find clear and convincing evidence supporting one of the grounds for termination listed under Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2017). See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). The juvenile court found the State met its burden of proving the grounds for termination set forth in section 232.116(1)(e), (f), and (l). We need only find grounds to terminate parental rights under one of the sections cited by the juvenile court to affirm. See In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999).

         To terminate parental rights under section 232.116(1)(f), the State must prove:

(1) The child is four years of age or older.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant ...

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