IN THE INTEREST OF T.J., Minor Child, S.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
L. Pietz, Des Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Wolle of Juvenile Public Defender Office, Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
appeals the termination of her parental relationship with
seven-year-old T.J. She argues the State failed to prove the
statutory grounds for termination by clear and convincing
evidence; termination would be detrimental to T.J. because of
the parent-child bond; and termination is not necessary
because T.J. is living with Sarah's mother. After
reviewing the record anew,  we reach the same conclusions as
the juvenile court. We thus affirm the termination of
Sarah's parental rights.
family first came to the attention of the Department of Human
Services (DHS) in December 2016 when the DHS received reports
Sarah and T.J.'s father, Travis, were using
methamphetamine while caring for T.J. Travis also assaulted
Sarah in T.J.'s presence. Both parents have a long
history of substance abuse and mutual domestic violence.
court ordered the DHS to remove T.J. from his parents'
care. The DHS placed T.J. with his maternal grandmother,
Vicki, where he has remained throughout this case. At the
time of removal, Sarah and Travis tested positive for
methamphetamine and opiates. Travis reported he and Sarah
used methamphetamine daily. Sarah reported Travis struck her
in front of T.J. T.J. also said he saw his dad hit his mom.
This incident resulted in a founded child abuse assessment
against Sarah and Travis, as well as criminal charges against
Travis, who already had a lengthy criminal record. The court
ordered the parents to attend substance abuse treatment and
individual and couples therapy to address their drug abuse,
mental health, and domestic violence issues.
next year, the DHS offered services to the parents. Sarah
completed substance abuse treatment and tested negative for
drugs. Sarah and Travis attended couples therapy together.
But Travis was inconsistent in his substance abuse treatment
and mental health therapy, impeded somewhat by repeated
stints in jail on unrelated charges. In January 2018, the
court allowed a six-month extension for the parents to
continue working toward reunification. In February 2018,
despite informing the DHS their relationship was over, Sarah
and Travis resumed living together.
time of the termination hearing, the DHS reported Travis
continued to take prescribed narcotics for various injuries
despite his addiction to opiates.Because of these
prescriptions, he gave several positive drug tests. The tests
also revealed substances not accounted for by his
prescriptions. He did not complete substance abuse treatment,
and denied on the stand that he had a substance abuse
problem. He also testified he had only been high around T.J.
a couple times, contradicting his and Sarah's earlier
admissions. Travis further denied ever assaulting Sarah.
showed more promise in her efforts to regain custody. She
successfully completed drug treatment and maintained her
sobriety. She was generally meeting case expectations and
domestic violence concerns continued to cloud Sarah's
prospects for reunification. At the termination hearing,
Sarah recanted earlier statements that Travis assaulted her
in December 2016. Originally, she reported Travis punched and
slapped her, giving her a swollen eye. But at the hearing she
testified they were mutually pushing and shoving each other
and she received the eye injury from a fall. Sarah also
testified she believed Travis had adequately addressed his
substance abuse and domestic violence issues, despite his
failure to complete any ...