IN THE INTEREST OF C.O., Minor Child, K.O., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D.
Belcher, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
Francis P. Hurley of Phil Watson P.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit and John
McCormally (until withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys General,
for appellee State.
Wolle of Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to
C.O., born in August 2017. She argues the State failed to
prove by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for
termination exist under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(b), (e),
(g), and (h) (2018). In addition, she asserts termination is
not in the best interests of the child and the willingness of
a relative to assume legal custody precludes termination
under Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(a). We find the mother has
waived any claim of error under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(h), the child's best interests are served by
terminating the mother's parental rights, and no relative
has legal custody of the child to preclude termination.
Background Facts and Proceedings
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with
the family in August 2017, when C.O. tested positive for
methamphetamine and amphetamine at birth. The mother admitted
to the use of methamphetamine in the week leading up to
C.O.'s birth. While C.O. was still in the hospital, the
mother left, did not return, and did not participate in a
child-abuse assessment. Her whereabouts remained unknown
until she was later arrested on several drug-related felony
charges in September. The mother has a long history of
substance abuse and has previously had her parental rights
terminated for two other children.
State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in March
2018. A termination hearing was held in two parts: beginning
on May 24 and concluding on June 7. On July 24, the district
court found the State had proved by clear and convincing
evidence the grounds for termination under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(b), (e), (g), and (h). The mother
Standard of Review
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016).
"We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings
of fact, but we do give them weight . . . ." In re
D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). "We will
uphold an order terminating parental rights if there is clear
and convincing evidence of grounds for termination under Iowa
Code section 232.116." Id.; accord
Iowa Code § 232.117(3) ("If the court concludes
that facts sufficient to sustain the petition have been
established by clear and convincing evidence, the court may
order parental rights terminated."). "'Clear
and convincing evidence' means there are no serious or
substantial doubts as to the correctness [of] conclusions of
law drawn from the evidence." In re C.B., 611
N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).