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In re J.K.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.K., Minor Child, M.K., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton Ploof, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. AFFIRMED.

          Timothy J. Tupper of Tupper Law Firm, Davenport, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State

          Cynthia Taylor of Zamora, Taylor, Woods & Frederick, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          CARR, SENIOR JUDGE.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to J.K., born in March 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)(h) (2018) and termination is not in the best interests of the child. Because the mother cannot sustain sobriety, we find grounds for termination exist and termination is in the best interests of the child.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with this family in March 2017, when the mother gave birth to J.K. while incarcerated. Three days after his birth, J.K. was placed in foster care, where he has remained. The mother has a history of substance abuse, and her parental rights for two other children were terminated in 2015 due in part to drug use. After her release from prison in May 2017, the mother maintained sobriety for less than six months. In October, the mother relapsed and tested positive for cocaine. Throughout the next year, the mother failed to remain sober.

         The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in May 2018. In June, a hair-stat test was positive for methamphetamine and cocaine, and a urinalysis was positive for cocaine metabolites, amphetamines, and marijuana metabolites. In August, the mother's urinalysis was positive for cocaine metabolites. On November 28, the district court found the State had proved by clear and convincing evidence the grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), (g), and (h). The mother appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review of termination-of-parental-rights proceedings is de novo. In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (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." In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). "'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 2002).

         III. Grounds ...


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