from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, Karen
Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.
appeals from the juvenile court's order denying a motion
to modify placement.
R. McCormack of Van Cleaf & McCormack Law Firm, LLP, Des
Moines, for appellant maternal grandmother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Jean Rodriguez of Garland & Rodriguez, Garner, guardian
ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Bower, J., and Mahan, S.J.
appeal arises out of a proceeding to terminate parental
rights pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017). The juvenile
court terminated the mother's and father's parental
rights to their four-year-old child, N.H., and transferred
guardianship and custody of the child to the department of
human services. The department chose the child's
foster-home placement as her adoptive home. The mother's
appeal was dismissed as untimely; the father did not appeal.
maternal grandmother, intervenor V.B., now appeals from the
juvenile court's order denying her motion to modify
placement and have N.H. placed with her. We review the
juvenile court's post-termination order de novo. See
In re E.G., 745 N.W.2d 741, 743 (Iowa Ct. App.
family came to the attention of the department in 2016, when
the mother (who had not known she was pregnant) delivered a
baby, J., prematurely at home in the toilet. The mother and
N.H. were residing with the maternal grandparents. Although
the mother denied substance use, the mother, N.H., and J. all
tested positive for methamphetamine. N.H. was removed from
the home and placed in foster care in December
motion to intervene was granted in April 2017. V.B.
repeatedly denied the mother's usage and stated the
mother had no opportunity to use because V.B. was supervising
her, even after the mother admitted to ongoing
methamphetamine use and drug tests confirmed the mother's
continued use. The department informed the court it did not
support the child's placement with V.B.
July 2017 review order, the juvenile court observed V.B.
"continues to enable Mother's drug use, including
lying to cover for her." The court found, "This is
not helpful to reunification efforts, or the possibility of
being able to safely place [N.H.] back in [V.B.]'s
home." In the November 2017 permanency order, the court
noted V.B. "continues to minimize and seem surprised by
Mother's ongoing drug use." The court found
V.B's ability to protect N.H. from the mother to be
"questionable" and stated, "While [V.B.] no
doubt loves [N.H.], she does not see how her inaction over
the years has contributed to and enabled Mother's drug
use and neglect of [N.H.]." The court also observed,
"[I]t is unlikely [V.B.]'s home study would be
approved for adoption (she has not started [foster parenting
classes]) in a timely fashion, so moving [N.H.] from a home
where she is doing well would be detrimental."
Meanwhile, V.B. started a GoFundMe account to get N.H.
"back from the State," claiming the family was
being "bull[ied]" by the State. V.B. was allowed
monthly supervised visits with N.H.
the time of the termination hearing in February 2018, N.H.
had been in the same foster home since her removal in 2016.
The department did not support N.H.'s placement with
V.B., citing concerns that V.B. continued to minimize the
mother's drug use and claimed N.H.'s positive drug
test was not accurate. The juvenile court acknowledged
similar concerns in the termination order:
[V.B.] has consistently failed to acknowledge Mother's
heavy and sustained drug addiction, claiming not to have
noticed at all. Her lack of awareness allowed Mother to use
methamphetamine daily for years and to expose [N.H.] and in
utero, [J.], to drugs. Even after over a year of hearing
Mother's eventual admissions of heavy drug use and
multiple positive drug tests through the CINA case, she
continues, even at the termination hearing, to deny
Mother's use, make excuses and enable Mother's
refusal to participate in treatment. She continues to dispute
the accuracy of Mother's, [N.H.'s] and [J.'s]
drug test results when [J.] was born, even though Mother
admits she was using during that time. There is no doubt that
[V.B.] loves ...