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In re T.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 10, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF T.B. and M.M., Minor Children, M.U., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Daniel P. Kitchen, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals the continued removal of two of her children from her care following the modification of a dispositional order.

          John G. Daufeldt of Daufeldt Law Firm, PLC, Conroy, for appellant mother.

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

          Kathryn J. Salazar of Schlegel & Salazar, LLP, Washington, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE

         The mother challenges the continued removal of two of her children from her care following the modification of a dispositional order. The mother maintains the State (1) failed to prove by substantial evidence that imminent risk, which warranted emergency removal of the children from her care, existed and (2) did not prove a material and substantial change in circumstances warranting a change in disposition.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         T.B. and M.M. are the mother's youngest two children; they are the only children at issue in this appeal.[1] T.B. was born in September 2013 and M.M. was born in March 2017.

         The mother has a history of involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) due to her struggles with substance abuse-specifically methamphetamine. The family was the subject of a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceeding before DHS got involved with the family this time.

         DHS's current involvement with the family began in October 2016 due to allegations the mother was caring for the children while using methamphetamine. During an assessment by DHS, the mother admitted she relapsed on methamphetamine in December 2015 and stated she used it daily until approximately one and a half months before the assessment. The mother was pregnant with M.M. at the time.

         The mother stipulated to the January 2017 adjudication of T.B., and, following a contested hearing, M.M. was adjudicated in May. Both children were adjudicated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(n) (2017).

         Dispositional orders have been modified a number of times throughout the case, as the mother alternates between sobriety and relapsing. The mother tested positive for methamphetamine in both January and April 2017. Additionally, she incurred a number of criminal charges and has, at times, shown a lack of stability.

         However, by late August and into September, the mother was exhibiting positive progress, and both T.B. and M.M. were returned to the mother's home on extended trial visits. They were returned to the mother's custody in early November. During this time period, the mother received a number of positive reports about her ability to parent the children on her own, as her paramour, M.M.'s biological father, was not helping financially or with caretaking duties. The paramour had not engaged with the services of DHS, and the mother reported he was using methamphetamine and spending time with people who manufacture the drug. The mother reported feeling stressed about financial matters and the state of her relationship with her paramour.

         In late November, the mother's substance-abuse counselor contacted DHS, reporting the mother was asked to provide a urine sample for a drug test while at a group meeting, but the mother stated she was unable. She was then asked to return the next day to provide the sample and failed to do so. When the counselor tried to reach out to the ...


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