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In re L.T.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF L.T., A.T., and D.T., Minor Children, K.T., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to three children. AFFIRMED.

          Ellen Ramsey-Kacena, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and John McCormally, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State. Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Inc., Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

          DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         A mother appeals from an order terminating her parental rights to three children: L.T., born in October 2012; A.T., born in April 2014; and D.T., born in May 2015.[1] The mother challenges the cessation of reasonable efforts by the department of human services (DHS) upon the juvenile court's oral statement of termination of parental rights in May 2017. She also asserts the juvenile court erred in denying her July 1, 2018 motion to reopen the record and in failing to give her additional time to seek reunification with her children. Because the mother does not challenge the grounds upon which termination was entered, termination is in the children's statutory best interests, and no permissive factor weighs against termination, we affirm.

         The mother was previously involved with DHS and child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings on two other occasions involving other children she had. Her parental rights for two of her children were terminated and a third child was placed in his father's sole custody. Throughout all of the juvenile court proceedings, the mother has dealt with long-term substance-abuse and mental-health issues.

         In 2014, L.T., A.T., and D.T. came to the attention of DHS following the birth of D.T., who tested positive for amphetamines at birth. The mother acknowledged taking her husband's Adderall medication. At the time, L.T. was age three years and A.T. was approximately fourteen months old.

         At a June 2015 hearing, all parties stipulated the children were CINA. A safety plan was put in place and the children remained in the home. However, due to the parents' continued drug use, the children were removed in September 2015. They have remained in the same foster home since their removal.

         The mother has experienced numerous traumatic events and her response has been to self-medicate. She has participated in multiple substance-abuse treatment programs over the years, including five residential treatment programs, but has not been successful in maintaining her sobriety. She has a poor work history and a pattern of unstable housing.

         At the time of the November 2016 termination trial[2]-fourteen months after the children had been removed from the parents' custody-the mother acknowledged she had used methamphetamine the week before the hearing. Her November 14, 2016 drug patch tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamines. The mother stated she "absolutely" needed treatment for substance abuse. Her most recent substance-abuse evaluation recommended residential treatment. She testified, "I need to do that [a residential treatment program]. I can't focus on life and everything else if I don't have my sobriety as number one. I need to be away. I need to be in a structured environment. I can't stay sober by myself." She asked the court,

Give me time to go and focus on my recovery. And not just thirty days, I have no intention of just doing thirty days. And to actually give me a chance because I have shown that I can be in recovery, that I'm dedicated to it, but right now I have continued use and I can't do it alone, and I need time to get in somewhere and to have that support again, because I have been lacking that.

         At the end of the November 2016 hearing, the juvenile court stated the matter of termination of parental ...


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