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In re T.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF T.B., Minor Child, C.L.M., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          AFFIRMED. Jonathan M. Causey of Causey & Ye Law, PLLC., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

          Erin E. Mayfield of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          McDONALD, JUDGE.

         A mother, Copa, appeals from an order terminating her parental rights in her child, T.B., pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) and (h) (2018). The mother challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing the termination of her parental rights, the juvenile court's finding the State made reasonable efforts to facilitate her reunification with the child, and the denial of her request for six additional months to work toward reunification. The mother also contends termination of the parent-child relationship is not the child's best interest, the State failed to provide a social history report, and the State failed to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Finally, she claims she received ineffective assistance of counsel from her first attorney.

         I.

         This family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) in 2014 when IDHS removed two children from Copa's care because of her methamphetamine use. Despite IDHS intervention, Copa continued to use methamphetamine. Ultimately, she consented to the termination of her parental rights with respect to the two children removed from her care.

         The family again came to the attention of IDHS. The day after T.B.'s birth in 2014, there was a report of domestic violence. T.B. was removed from the mother's care in December 2014, and a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding was initiated. The juvenile court closed the case and returned T.B. to Copa's care in January 2016.

         Shortly thereafter, following a subsequent incident of domestic abuse in the home, another assistance proceeding was initiated. The juvenile court permitted T.B. to remain in Copa's care. As part of the case plan, Copa was required, among other things, to take random drug screens due to her history of substance abuse. In particular, she had a long history of using methamphetamine.

         The child did not remain in Copa's care for long. Copa tested positive for methamphetamine in January 2017, and T.B. was removed from her care and placed in foster care. Copa requested her aunt be considered as a placement option for T.B. The juvenile court did not approve of the requested placement because T.B.'s social worker had past altercations with the aunt and did not believe the two could interact constructively. Copa continued to test positive for methamphetamine in subsequent tests. Initially, Copa denied drug use and accused IDHS of setting her up for failure. Eventually, Copa conceded she relapsed, but she then recanted her concession, arguing her attorney coerced her into admitting drug use. Copa's recantation is not credible. In an email from December 2017, Copa admitted to her social worker she had been using methamphetamine since November 2016 and realized she needed to make changes in her life.

         The State petitioned to terminate Copa's parental rights. Copa contested the termination of her parental rights. The juvenile court terminated Copa's parental rights pursuant ...


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