IN THE INTEREST OF A.Z., Minor Child, M.Z., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Angela L.
Doyle, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals from an order terminating her parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2018).
Douglas Cook of Cook Law Office, Jewell, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
J. Livingston of Thatcher, Tofilon & Livingston, PLC,
Fort Dodge, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
mother, Miranda, appeals from an order terminating her
parental rights in her child, A.Z., pursuant to Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(h) and (l) (2018). Miranda
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the
statutory grounds authorizing termination of her parental
rights, challenges the juvenile court's determination the
State made reasonable efforts to facilitate reunification of
the family, and argues termination of her parental rights is
not in the child's best interest. She also contends the
juvenile court erred in denying her request for an additional
six months' time to work toward reunification with the
review termination proceedings de novo. See In re
A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). The statutory
framework authorizing the termination of a parent-child
relationship is well established. See In re A.S.,
906 N.W.2d 467, 472-73 (Iowa 2018). The burden is on the
State to prove by clear and convincing evidence (1) the
statutory ground or grounds authorizing the termination of
parental rights and (2) "termination of parental rights
is in the best interest[ ] of the child[ ]." See In
re E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL 2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct.
App. June 21, 2017). Even where the State proves its case,
however, the juvenile court has the discretion to preserve
the parent-child relationship where the parent proves by
clear and convincing evidence a statutory factor allowing
preservation of the parent-child relationship. See
Iowa Code § 232.116(3) (setting forth permissive factors
to avoid the termination of parental rights); AS.,
906 N.W.2d at 476 (stating it is the parent's burden to
prove an exception to termination).
first address the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the
termination of Miranda's parental rights. Where, as here,
"the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more
than one statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile
court's order on any ground we find supported by the
record." In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa
2012). We focus on Code section 232.116(1)(h). Miranda only
challenges the evidence supporting the fourth element under
section 232.116(1)(h), which requires "clear and
convincing evidence the child[ ] would be exposed to an
appreciable risk of adjudicatory harm if returned to the
parent's custody at the time of the termination
hearing." Cf. E.H., 2017 WL 2684420, at *1.
came to the attention of The Iowa Department of Human
Services (IDHS) in June 2016 due to her use of
methamphetamine while caring for her two older children, who
are the subjects of pending assistance cases and not at issue
in this appeal. IDHS removed the children from Miranda's
care but returned them to her care after Miranda successfully
completed an inpatient treatment program in November 2016.
After completing the inpatient treatment program, Miranda
failed to maintain contact with IDHS workers and failed to
comply with her outpatient treatment. She relapsed and tested
positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine, and Ecstasy in
December. She was quickly readmitted into the same inpatient
treatment program, and the children were placed in her care.
She was also pregnant with A.Z. at this time. Although