IN THE INTEREST OF A.V., Minor Child, A. V., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Barbara H.
Liesveld, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
R. Fiester, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Raymond P. Lough, Vinton, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
child. She contends the State failed to prove the
statutory grounds for termination by clear and convincing
evidence, termination is not in the best interests of the
child, a statutory exception to termination should be
applied, and the juvenile court erred in declining her
request for additional time to work toward reunification.
Background Facts and Proceedings
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with
this family at the time of the child's birth in a
Minnesota hospital in October 2017, at which time the mother
tested positive for several illegal substances. She readily
admitted to using methamphetamine and marijuana during her
pregnancy. The mother testified she did not learn of her
pregnancy until about two weeks prior to the child's
birth. The child tested positive for methamphetamine,
amphetamines, and THC. Two days after the child's birth,
the mother left the hospital against medical advice and
returned to Iowa. She left the child at the hospital and did
not return until the child was discharged from the hospital
more than a week later, when she accompanied a DHS worker to
transport the child to foster care. The child was removed
from the parents' custody on October 18 and was
adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) on October
24. The mother previously placed another of her children for
mother has a long history of substance abuse covering roughly
fifteen years. Prior to these proceedings, she had never
received treatment for her substance abuse. In its
adjudicatory order, the juvenile court ordered the mother to
submit to random drug testing and undergo a substance-abuse
evaluation. She tested positive for amphetamines at an
October 30 substance-abuse evaluation. DHS attempted to
obtain samples for drug tests from the mother on eighteen
different occasions between late October 2017 and early March
2018. During this period, DHS was only able to obtain a
sample from the mother on November 7, which tested positive
for methamphetamine. Following the substance-abuse
evaluation, it was recommended that the mother participate in
outpatient treatment, but she did not show up for her
admission appointment on November 2. The mother reported for
outpatient treatment intake on November 20, but she
subsequently failed to attend group therapy appointments and
was discharged from outpatient treatment for failure to
attend. The mother obtained a second substance-abuse
evaluation in January, at which time she tested negative for
drugs. Again, however, the mother did not follow through with
March 13, as a result of the mother's lack of progress,
the juvenile court directed the State to file a petition for
termination of the mother's parental rights. Thereafter,
the mother began consistently attending substance-abuse
treatment. She tested negative for drugs on March 16 and 26
and April 10. The results of another drug test the mother
submitted to were pending at the time of the termination
hearing in late May. Throughout the life of these
proceedings, the mother has been generally consistent in
attending visitation with the child, with some exceptions and
tardiness issues. At the termination hearing, the DHS case
worker testified the mother has been doing
"fantastic" in the last two and a half months. She
stated the mother has supervised visitation with the child
three or four times per week, there are no parental- or
supervision-related concerns during those visits, and she is
open to suggestions from providers and the foster mother.
Yet, the mother has not progressed beyond supervised
visitation. The DHS worker testified she was considering
allowing the mother to start exercising semi-supervised
visitation with the child, pending the results of the drug
test administered before the hearing. The DHS worker
additionally indicated the mother was complying with the case
plan at the time of the termination hearing. The mother
testified at the termination hearing she has been clean since
December 1, 2017.
a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's
parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g), (h),
and (l) (2018). As noted, the mother appeals.