IN THE INTEREST OF E.T., Minor Child, J.R., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine
Dalton Ploof, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
W. Stickle of Stickle Law Firm, PLC, Davenport, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Christine D. Frederick of Zamora Taylor Woods &
Frederick, Davenport, 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
E.T., born May 2008. On appeal, the mother argues termination
under section 232.116(1)(d), (f), (g), and (i) (2018) is not
supported by clear and convincing evidence. She also argues
she was denied reasonable efforts at reunification and
termination is not in the child's best interest.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) was first involved
with the family in 2013, when E.T. and his siblings were
adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA) for their
mother's failure to keep them safe from physical and
sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence, and
homelessness. E.T. and his siblings witnessed E.T.'s
biological father assault the mother. E.T.'s biological
father was convicted of sexual assault of the mother's
oldest child, and both the mother and E.T.'s biological
father were found to have physically abused all of the
mother's children, including E.T.
August 2014, new concerns came to light regarding the
mother's sobriety and living situation. The mother had
trouble maintaining a residence; she moved between friends,
family, and shelters without notifying DHS. She struggled
with substance abuse and did not engage in treatment when
recommended. The mother had voluntarily placed the children
with a friend before E.T. and his siblings were adjudicated
CINA in October and formally placed with the mother's
January 2015, the court ordered the children be returned to
the care of their mother. E.T.'s half-sibling, J.W.,
refused to return to her mother's care. The court found
she had true fears of returning to her mother's care and
placed her in foster care. While in his mother's care,
E.T. began exhibiting problematic behaviors at school,
earning twelve days of suspension and missing nineteen days
of school between January and April. E.T. was reduced to half
days at school due to his major behavioral issues. In May,
J.W.'s foster parent reported she smelled alcohol on the
mother. The mother tested positive for alcohol use.
August, the mother was discharged from her substance-abuse
treatment program for a lack of participation and follow
through. DHS made an unannounced visit to test her for
alcohol use. While the test was not completed, the mother
admitted she had relapsed and had been drinking. The mother
was also not consistently taking the children to therapy or
school or participating in her own mental-health treatment.
Another concern was the mother's paramour, a parolee who
also struggles with substance abuse, testing positive for
cocaine in August. A safety plan by DHS restricted contact
between the mother's paramour and the children.
Statements by the children suggest the mother was not
following through on the safety plan: E.T. told the guardian
ad litem (GAL) the paramour does not stay overnight, then
turned to his brother and stated, "Is she the one we are
supposed to tell?"
December, E.T. and his brother were removed. The mother had
not reengaged in substance-abuse treatment and her paramour
was arrested in her car after a short car chase. Cocaine was
found in the vehicle, and her paramour tested positive for
cocaine use. In ...