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In re J.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF J.M., Minor Child, D.L., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda Belcher, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court's termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Teresa M. Pope of Branstad Law, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

          Kimberly Graham of Graham Collaborative Law, Indianola, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. We find an extension to work toward reunification is not warranted, the evidence supports termination, termination is in the child's best interests, and no exceptions apply. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         D.L. is mother to J.M., born in 2015. The mother has struggled with methamphetamine addiction since 2008, which led to a prior termination of parental rights. J.M. tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine at birth. The mother was enrolled in substance-abuse treatment at the time. On September 15, 2016, the mother tested positive for and admitted recent methamphetamine use to her parole officer. The child tested positive to methamphetamine exposure and the mother consented to a temporary removal, which the court ordered September 20. The mother also admitted to having mental-health issues, including post-partum depression, severe depression, and anxiety.

         On December 2, the court adjudicated J.M. as a child in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6) (2016). The child was placed with a maternal cousin and great-grandmother.[1] The mother participated in recovery court, outpatient substance-abuse treatment, and mental-health services. She was employed and had stable housing.

         In February 2017, the mother entered an inpatient treatment program. She participated in mental-health therapy on a weekly basis. For several months she appeared to be doing well with her sobriety and gradually received extended visitation and overnights with the child. In June, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine, was discharged from her inpatient treatment, and the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) returned her to supervised visitation with the child. She began a new outpatient treatment program, and occasionally participated in recovery court.

         At a permanency hearing in October 2017, the mother had completed a new substance-abuse evaluation and was on a wait list for a new inpatient program. The mother had been discharged from her mental-health treatment due to her failure to participate, and she reported methamphetamine use in early October. The court ordered the State to file a petition to terminate parental rights, which was filed December 7.

         The mother successfully completed inpatient treatment from November to March 16, 2018. She had overnight visits with the child by the end of treatment. She then participated in outpatient substance-abuse treatment and graduated on May 8, attended recovery meetings, and engaged in recovery court programming. A family team meeting discussed a timeline for a trial home visit and a return of the child to the mother's custody. Meanwhile, in late April and again in May, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine-while actively participating in recovery programs and knowing the child ...


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