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In re A.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.S., T.S., and K.R., Minor Children, A.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court's termination of her parental rights.

          Laura J. Lockwood of Hartung & Schroeder, LLP, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Nicole Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. We find termination is in the children's best interests. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         A.R. is the mother of A.S., born in 2007; T.S., born in 2009; and K.R., born in 2014. R.S. is the father of A.S. and T.S. D.R. is the father of K.R.

         In 2016, the mother began using controlled substances in the home, following several years of sobriety.[1] On September 30, 2016, the mother took the oldest child to a house which had just been subject to a police search yielding significant quantities of controlled substances. The mother was searched on the scene and found to be in possession of controlled substances. Law enforcement arrested the mother and contacted the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), which took custody of A.S. An order for temporary removal was requested and granted for all three children.[2] The children were placed with a maternal aunt and uncle. The court ordered drug screens of the children, and K.R. tested positive for the presence of illegal drugs.

         On November 28, the court adjudicated the children as in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o) (2016), and ordered supervised visitation and Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) services. In late December, the children were moved from their maternal aunt and uncle's home to their maternal grandfather's home. At a January 2017 disposition hearing, the court found the children's caretakers were not following the court's orders, including therapy for the children, and modified their placements. A.S. and T.S. were placed with a foster family, and K.R. was placed with the paternal grandmother. All three children began therapy.

         Between October 2016 and October 2017, the mother entered eight different treatment programs. The mother successfully completed two intensive treatment programs, but failed to complete aftercare. The mother requested a transfer of the CINA case to the recovery court program in February 2017, but was unsuccessfully discharged for missing drug screens and being non-compliant. The mother was inconsistent in her interactions with the children prior to a treatment program she began in October 2017. She struggled to reach her visitations on time, and sometimes did not appear. Prior to her last inpatient treatment program, the mother's periodic drug tests sometimes came up positive, sometimes negative, but were almost all provided days after the request from DHS or her treatment programs.

         R.S. was released from prison at the beginning of October 2016. He demonstrated progress in addressing his substance-abuse issues in late 2016 and early 2017. Beginning in spring 2017, DHS allowed R.S. extended and unsupervised visits with A.S. and T.S. By September, the children were allowed to stay overnight with their father, and the mother would visit them at the father's home. In September, the father requested a modification of placement to move the children to his care. At his next drug ...


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