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In re J.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 15, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF J.H., Minor Child, J.M., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Geneva L. Williams of Williams Law Office, PLLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and John B. McCormally, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Julie Gunderson Trachta of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.

          VOGEL, JUDGE.

         The mother appeals the district court's termination of her parental rights to her son, J.H. She argues the statutory grounds for termination were not met, termination was not in J.H.'s best interests, and she should have additional time for reunification. We agree with the district court and affirm.

         J.H. was born in August 2017. The family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) because J.H. and the mother tested positive for methamphetamine at J.H's birth. J.H. was then removed from parental care but remained in the hospital, showing signs of drug withdrawal. A week later, he was released from the hospital and placed with a foster family, where he remained for the duration of these proceedings. He was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA), and the DHS offered several services to the family, including services to assist with mental health, substance abuse, and life skills.

         The mother has a history of mental health issues, including schizophrenia. Hannah Shaffer, who provided services to the parents, testified some of the mother's actions showed "a loss of reality":

[The mother] had made a comment to another worker that . . . she had saved them from gang wars that were put on by the government. That she had pencils in her hat that were protecting her from her thoughts being read by the government. . . . I think one of the most alarming ones for me was that she had intended to give [J.H.] a pill that was previously known as meth but is now called phase four, to get him involved in a government study or experiment, as she put it.

         The mother has refused a substance-abuse evaluation and mental-health treatment.

         The mother lives with J.H.'s father, who also has mental-health issues, including mild cognitive disorder due to a traumatic brain injury, and who has borderline intellectual functioning. He admitted to daily use of marijuana-which he intends to continue-and his legal history includes multiple felonies. The parents were homeless for about three months after J.H.'s birth. The DHS offered the parents two visits with J.H. per week, and they have attended sixty-two of eighty-five offered visits.

         On May 11, 2018, the district court held a hearing on the termination of the parents' rights to J.H. On June 4, the court terminated the parents' rights under Iowa Code ...


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