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In re A.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 19, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R. and A.R., Minor Children, A.B., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Rose Anne Mefford, District Associate Judge.

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

          Misty White, Sigourney, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Diane Crookham-Johnson of Crookham-Johnson Law Office PLLC, Oskaloosa, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to two children, born in 2012 and 2014.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The district court temporarily removed the children from the mother's custody after law enforcement officers conducted a consensual search of her home and discovered methamphetamine and marijuana paraphernalia on the kitchen table, within reach of the youngest child. The mother admitted to using methamphetamine a day earlier and reported regular use of the drug. She appeared to be under the drug's influence.

         The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance petition. The district court adjudicated the children in need of assistance and, with the parents' agreement, transferred their custody to the department of human services for placement with relatives. The children were initially placed with their grandmother and later with their maternal great aunt and uncle, where they remained through the termination hearing.

         Meanwhile, a substance-abuse evaluator concluded the mother met the criteria for severe amphetamine-use disorder and severe cannabis-use disorder. The mother began but discontinued inpatient treatment and failed to complete outpatient treatment. She maintained a relationship with a man who domestically abused her and threatened harm to the children to gain an advantage over her. She only sporadically engaged in supervised visits with the children, entirely missing three months of visits.

         Following the three-month absence, the department and guardian ad litem informed her future visits would take place in a therapeutic setting. During the two months preceding the termination hearing, the mother re-engaged in visits but, according to a department report, continued her disengagement "from all services for substance abuse and mental health."

         The mother failed to attend the termination hearing. Following the hearing, the district court terminated her parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code sections 232.116(1)(f) and (h) (2018), which require proof of several elements, ...


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