IN THE INTEREST OF B.H. and JR., Minor Children, J.H., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, William
Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
Baird Krafka of Krafka Law Office, Ottumwa, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
K. Erhardt of Erhardt & Erhardt, Ottumwa, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to B.H.
and J.R., born in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The mother
maintains there is not clear and convincing evidence the
children could not be returned to her care at the time of the
termination hearing, termination is not in the children's
best interests, and the district court erred in admitting
Background Facts and Proceedings.
family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of
Human Services (DHS) in 2009 due to the mother's use of
methamphetamine, concerns regarding her mental health, and
domestic violence in the mother's romantic relationship.
Both children were adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA)
before DHS ultimately closed the case.
second case was opened in July 2013, based upon the same
issues. The children were again adjudicated CINA and removed
from the mother's care for a period of time before DHS
closed the second case in August 2015.
present case was initiated only one month later-in September
2015- upon allegations the mother was seen leaving a known
drug house. The mother was asked to provide a sample for drug
testing, and the result showed the mother was again using
methamphetamine. The mother participated in services, but off
and on for the next two years-until September 2017-the mother
either admitted to use of or tested positive for
methamphetamine. During this period, the children returned to
their mother's care for a short time, but they were
removed-for the final time-in November 2016, after the mother
relapsed again. The court terminated her parental rights in
July 2018 after a termination hearing in May and June 2018.
undisputed the mother did not use methamphetamine from the
time she entered inpatient substance-abuse treatment in
mid-September 2017 through the first day of the termination
hearing in mid-May 2018. Still DHS expressed concerns the
mother was engaged in a romantic relationship with a man who
continued to abuse drugs and had an open juvenile court case
regarding his children. The mother was dishonest about the
status of her relationship with the man, telling DHS the two
had ended their relationship and then changing the date the
relationship ended after being confronted with evidence they
continued to see each other. Additionally, the family's
social worker was sent a series of messages the mother and
paramour had sent to each other, which established that the
mother- even if not personally using
methamphetamine-continued to associate with individuals who
were and was at least considering buying the drug for others.
second day of the termination hearing took place in mid-June
2018. The social worker testified the mother had missed her
last three scheduled therapy appointments-attending most
recently in late March or early April 2018. Additionally, the
family's service provider testified he had a parenting
class with the mother a few days before and noticed her
pupils looked enlarged. The only other time the provider had
noticed this occurring was when he saw the mother in
September 2015 and made the report that ultimately caused
this third case to be opened-after which the mother tested
positive for methamphetamine. The service provider informed
the social worker of his suspicion the mother was under the
influence, and the social worker asked the mother to provide
a sample for drug testing later that day when the mother
attended family treatment court. She did not test. At trial,
the mother testified she was unable to ...