IN THE INTEREST OF P.H., Minor Child, N.H., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Chickasaw County, David F.
mother appeals the termination of her parental relationship
with her nine-year-old daughter.
A. Kuehner of Eggert, Erb, Kuehner & DeBower PLC, Charles
City, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
P. Thalacker, Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
P.H. has behavioral issues, trouble bonding, and "a lot
of anger" stemming from early childhood traumas,
according to her therapist. In terminating the parental
relationship between P.H. and her mother, the juvenile court
concluded the mother's "poor parenting skills have
contributed to the child's trauma." The mother
appeals the termination order, alleging the State did not
prove P.H. would be unable to return to her care without
suffering abuse or neglect. After reviewing the record, we
reach the same conclusion as the juvenile court-reunification
is not possible given the risk of ongoing harm to
juvenile court temporarily removed P.H. from her home after
the mother repeatedly failed to pick her up from first grade.
In March 2016, the juvenile court adjudicated P.H. as a child
in need of assistance (CINA). The detailed CINA order
chronicled P.H.'s reports of physical abuse at the hands
of her mother and the child's "self-injurious"
behaviors at school. The order also noted a neurologist had
diagnosed P.H. with "absent seizures" but the
mother was inconsistent in administering the child's
medication. Notwithstanding its concerns, the juvenile court
returned the child to the mother's care under the
supervision of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS).
2016, the State again applied for a temporary removal order,
asserting the whereabouts of the family were unknown-the
mother initially said they were camping in central Iowa, but
actually moved with P.H. to Indiana without notice to the
DHS. In August 2016, P.H. returned to Iowa with her paternal
aunt, who has since been the child's placement.
her return to Iowa, P.H. was evaluated by psychologist George
Harper. P.H. told Dr. Harper she had seen her mother's
wife, Jessica, hit her mother. In a phone call with Dr.
Harper, the mother confirmed she was previously in an abusive
relationship and P.H. was exposed to domestic violence before
entering kindergarten. P.H. also revealed her mother had
physically and emotionally abused her. Dr. Harper opined the
abuse P.H. suffered early in her life "has had a very
adverse impact on [her] psychological development." Dr.
Harper also noted P.H.'s delayed intellectual
development. Dr. Harper diagnosed the eight-year-old girl
with major depressive disorder, trauma and stressor-related
disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
she returned to Iowa for court hearings, the mother remained
living in Indiana until January 2018. Despite her history of
mental-health issues, the mother did not consistently
participate in services recommended by DHS. She also was
sporadic in her contact with P.H.-in the nineteen months P.H.
was in her aunt's care leading up to the termination
hearing, the mother had only nine face-to-face visits with
her daughter. The DHS also offered the mother telephone
contact with P.H., but she did not always take advantage of
the opportunity- sometimes missing the calls, and sometimes
being argumentative with P.H.'s aunt and caregiver. After
the mother returned to Iowa, she was sleeping in a
friend's living room and was still "working on
getting [her] own place" at the time of the termination
State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in
December 2017. After a hearing in mid-March 2018, the
juvenile court issued its termination order in May. The
juvenile court relied on Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) as
the basis ...