IN THE INTEREST OF I.M., Minor Child, C.M., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Marion County, Steven W.
Guiter, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to one
of her children. AFFIRMED.
Charles E. Isaacson of Charles Isaacson Law, P.C., Des
Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
William E. Sales III of Sales Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines,
attorney for minor child.
R. Steves of Steves Law Firm, PLLC, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.
mother appeals the termination of her parental
rights to her child, I.M., who was born in
2007. The mother maintains there is not clear
and convincing evidence to support the termination of her
rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017) as
I.M. could be returned to her care at the time of the
termination hearing. She also contends termination is not in
I.M.'s best interests.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
and his older sister, A.M.,-who is not at issue in this
appeal-were removed from the mother's care in January
2016 after the mother called 911 and reported bed bugs were
in her skin. The mother was transported to the hospital,
where she tested positive for methamphetamine. In the months
leading up to the removal, the mother had other issues
documented by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS),
including two child-abuse assessments resulting from the
mother's decision to leave the children home alone for a
number of days while she went to a local casino to gamble.
The children were often unable to reach the mother while she
was gone and did not know where she was or when she would
return. Additionally, around the same time, A.M.-who was then
fourteen years old-moved a twenty-two-year-old man into the
family home for a week without the mother noticing.
social worker's child-abuse assessment summary, he noted:
This worker has been acquainted with [the mother] for the
past 9 years. [She] loves her children and has done the
best that she has been able to do for many years with them.
[She] has maintained a nice home. [She] has tried to give the
children everything they need and she is very upset now that
they have been removed. [She] for the past year has gone
downhill physically. She is continuing to recover from a
stroke so has made some gains but cannot drive at night, has
diabetes, possible kidney issues and states she cannot walk
down the stairs. [The mother] has had a host of bad
circumstance[s] and now bad decisions that have greatly
concerned this worker. Over the past few months [her]
finances were a big concern. [The mother] began gambling and
stayed away on at least two occasions for several days from
the home, leaving the children home alone. [She] has now
tested positive for methamphetamine.
March 2016, I.M. was adjudicated a child in need of
assistance (CINA). Later the same month, the mother submitted
to a urine test, which showed a positive result for cocaine.
to DHS's April 2016 report to the court, the mother has
struggled with mental-health issues her entire life. She
suffered a mental breakdown after separating from the father
of her three biological children. She then turned to drugs as
a coping mechanism. However, the mother maintains she lived a
life of recovery for over twenty years before she used
methamphetamine one time in January 2016. The mother was
diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia with chronic auditory
hallucinations, an anxiety disorder, a mild alcohol use
disorder, and a mild amphetamine type substance stimulant use
disorder. Medical personnel noted a "strong
suspicion" the mother was engaged in "very
inconsistent medication compliance"-possibly due to her
inability to keep track of when she last took her medication.
June, the mother told the social worker that her positive
drug test for cocaine was not due to her purposeful
ingestion. Rather, she claimed she was struggling with lack
of money and chose to help her cousin, a known drug dealer,
cut cocaine in exchange for cash. She maintained that she cut
her finger and accidently got cocaine in the wound.
July, the mother got into a physical altercation with one of
her adult daughters. According to the police report from the
incident, the adult daughter was lying in the hallway when
the mother began to argue with her before ultimately pushing
and trying to strike the daughter. The mother injured her
hand during the incident and ultimately had to undergo
September, the mother was discharged from drug treatment for
failure to attend. The same month, DHS learned-from speaking
with the mother's regular physician-that the mother's
"health had declined as a result of lack of follow
through and self-medicating." The physician indicated
the mother "had gone blind in one eye and should no
longer be driving at night." Additionally, the physician
reported that the mother had never suffered from a stroke,
explaining, "[The mother] came in seeking treatment and
was in a catatonic state due to the illegal substances she
had taken. [The mother] refused any blood testing and fell to
the floor in a fetal position when asked to have her blood
doctor's appointment in October, the mother indicated she
was still experiencing auditory hallucinations; she often
heard music and voices mumbling to her. ...