IN THE INTEREST OF K.S., P.S., and N.J., Minor Children, A.S., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Adair County, Monty
Franklin, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights in her
three children. AFFIRMED.
D. Hanson of Hanson Law Office, Winterset, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
A. Forsyth of Forsyth Law Office, P.L.L.C., Winterset,
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
mother, Amanda, appeals from an order terminating her
parental rights in her children, K.S., P.S., and N.J.,
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2018).
In this appeal, she challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting termination of her parental rights. The
fathers of the children do not appeal the termination of
their respective parental rights.
court reviews 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) (setting forth the
statutory framework). 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 children. See In re E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL
2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017).
first claim of error, Amanda contends there is insufficient
evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing
termination of her 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).
choose to focus our attention on Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f). Amanda concedes the State proved by clear and
convincing evidence the first three elements of section
232.116(1)(f) and limits her to challenge to the fourth
element. The fourth element "require[s] clear and
convincing evidence the children would be exposed to an
appreciable risk of adjudicatory harm if returned to the
parent's custody at the time of the termination
hearing." E.H., 2017 WL 2684420, at *1.
novo review, we conclude there is clear and convincing
evidence supporting termination of Amanda's rights
pursuant to section 232.116(1)(f). First, Amanda admitted
during the termination hearing the children could not be
returned to her care. When asked, "Would you be able to
receive the children back into your care today?" Amanda
replied, "No." Amanda's admission is supported
by other evidence. At the time of the termination hearing,
Amanda lived with her federal-parolee paramour, Steve, in a
two-bedroom home leased to Steve. Prior to the termination
hearing, Amanda refused to sign a release permitting the Iowa
Department of Human Services ("IDHS") to contact
Steve and conduct a background investigation. Amanda only
acquiesced and presented a signed release at the termination
hearing, but it was too late for IDHS to perform any
investigation. Without the necessary investigation, the
children could not be returned to Amanda's care while she
resided with Steve.
Amanda's mental-health conditions preclude her from
providing adequate care for her children. Amanda suffers from
several mental-health ailments, including: bipolar-type-one
disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and
anxiety. The record reflects these conditions have prevented
Amanda from providing adequate care to and supervision of the
children. The record reflects Amanda has not resolved these
concerns. Amanda's failure to address these concerns over
the life of the case militates in favor of terminating her
parental rights. See In re J.L., No. 18-0324, 2018
WL 1858382, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 18, 2018) (considering
mother's unresolved mental-health issues as a factor
supporting termination of her parental rights); In re
A.J., No. 17-1796, 2018 WL 437766, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App.
Jan. 10, 2018) (concluding mother's "untreated
mental-health conditions pose[d] a risk of harm"
warranting termination); In re T.H., No. 17-1558,
2017 WL 6520731, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 20, 2017)
(concluding mother could not provide adequate supervision and
care of her children due to unaddressed mental-health
and related to these mental-health concerns, Amanda's
inability to regulate her emotions and interact with others
impedes her ability to provide adequate care for the
children. See In re O.N., No. 17-0918, 2017 WL
3525324, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 16, 2017) (finding
mother's inability to regulate her emotions supported
determination that her child could not be returned to her
care). Amanda repeatedly discussed the court proceedings with
the children despite being told not to do so. She encouraged
the children to contact the guardian ad litem and state they
wanted to return to Amanda's care. She offered to
purchase the children pets if they did so. She struggled to
manage all three children at the same time during visitation
and acted inappropriately in front of the children. For
example, during one visit, Amanda forgot the food she planned
to bring, became upset, and shouted in front of the children
that IDHS had ruined her life and just wanted her to fail.
The children then attempted to comfort Amanda and deescalate
the situation. Amanda remained upset for the remainder the
visit, prompting K.S. to apologize to the supervising family
safety, risk, and ...