IN THE INTEREST OF M.M. and CM., Minor Children, A.H., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Marion County, Steven W.
Guiter, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
J. Tingle of Tingle Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
William E. Sales III of Sales Law Firm, PC, Des Moines,
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
C.M., born May 2014, and M.M., born March 2013. The mother argues
termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2018) as
to M.M. and section 232.116(1)(h) as to C.M. is not supported
by clear and convincing evidence. She also argues termination
is not in the children's best interests and the district
court failed to consider the factors weighing against
termination found in section 232.116(3).
Background Facts and Proceedings.
children were first removed in April 2016 after the mother
was discharged from a shelter for drug use and paraphernalia
possession, leaving her and the children homeless. The
children were placed in the custody of the maternal
grandmother until it was discovered the maternal
grandmother's husband is a registered sex offender. The
children were placed in foster care for a short while until
they were placed with their maternal grandfather and his wife
in June. The children continue to reside with the maternal
children were adjudicated children in need of assistance
(CINA) in June because of both parents' unresolved
substance-abuse issues. The mother reported to the district
court she was attending a substance-abuse treatment program,
but when the department contacted the program to inquire
about the mother's progress, they learned she was not a
patient. The mother reported she had a substance-abuse
evaluation scheduled throughout August and September, but she
did not attend an evaluation in those months. The mother was
arrested in January 2017 for providing false identification
information and in March for theft. The mother completed a
substance-abuse evaluation in jail. She reported the father
injected her with methamphetamine before her March arrest and
later reported the father physically abused her. The mother
and father ended their relationship.
mother attended a substance-abuse treatment program starting
in April. In June, the mother was granted an additional six
months to work toward reunification. While she successfully
completed the residential portion of the treatment program,
she was later discharged for breaking the rules by having a
cell phone. After her discharge, she did not address her
substance-abuse issues. She moved back in with her mother and
was not employed. Despite repeated recommendations, the
mother did not address her mental health or issues with
domestic violence and did not attend therapy.
mother reported she relapsed on methamphetamine in August and
was admitted to a six-week residential substance-abuse
treatment program. She later testified she lied about her
relapse in order to gain admission to the treatment program
because she believed it would help her regain custody. The
program counselor believed the mother had relapsed, contrary
to the mother's testimony. The mother successfully
completed that program in November. The mother engaged in
mental-health services for the first time during this
treatment program but did not continue to engage in
mental-health or substance-abuse services after she completed
termination hearing was held on December 13, 2017 and January
10, 2018. In December, the mother admitted the children could
not be returned to her because she lived with her mother and
stepfather, who is on the sex abuse registry. At the
continuation of the termination hearing in January, the
mother argued the children could live with her at her
mother's house because the stepfather had moved out. In