IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., Minor Child, M.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox,
District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
L. Cooper of Cooper, Goedicke, Reimer & Reese, PC, West
Des Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
ConGarry D. Williams of Juvenile Public Defender's
Office, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
fifteen-month-old child, A.B. The mother contends that grounds
for termination have not been proved by clear and convincing
evidence, she should have been granted an extension of time
to seek reunification, termination is not in the child's
best interests, and the mother-child bond should preclude
termination in any event.
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).
"We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings
of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing
the credibility of witnesses." Id. (citation
mother has long-standing, unresolved issues of mental health
(depression and anxiety) and substance abuse
(methamphetamine). Despite months of involvement with the
juvenile court, she had only recently engaged with a
mental-health provider. The mother asserts she had a
"long period of sobriety at the time of the termination
hearing." The record, however, establishes the mother
consistently tested positive for methamphetamine and other
substances from the time A.B. was removed from the
mother's care in May 2017 until the mother was ordered to
serve 100 days in jail, beginning in September
2017. She was pregnant when she was jailed. The
mother was released from custody on January 4, 2018, and gave
birth to a child on January 25. The termination hearing
concerning A.B. was held on January 31 and February 21, 2018.
In that January and February time period, the mother had been
living at either the House of Mercy or the Hope Ministries.
While she may have been free of substances from September
2017 to February 2018, the mother had been released from
custody for only about a month. This does not establish a
commitment or the ability to live a substance-free life
outside of a restricted setting. Moreover, the mother has a
newborn baby, and the mother has not demonstrated an ability
to attend to A.B.'s many medical needs.
child is under the age of three, was adjudicated a child in
need of assistance on June 27, 2017, has been removed from
the mother's custody for at least the last six
consecutive months, and cannot be returned to the
mother's care at present. Consequently, there is clear
and convincing evidence to support the termination of the
mother's parental rights under Iowa Code section
next determine whether the best-interest framework laid out
in section 232.116(2) supports termination of parental
rights. In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 473 (Iowa 2018).
Section 232.116(2) provides in relevant part,
In considering whether to terminate the rights of a parent
under this section, the court shall give primary
consideration to the child's safety, to the best
placement for furthering the long-term nurturing and growth
of the child, and to the physical, mental, and emotional
condition and needs of the child. This consideration may
include any of the following:
(a)Whether the parent's ability to provide the needs of
the child is affected by the parent's mental capacity or