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In re B.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF B.S., Minor Child, G.S., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Justin R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, PLLC, Glenwood, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Katherine Murphy of Kate Murphy Law, PLC, Glenwood, for appellees intervenors.

          Vicki Danley, Sidney, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          Mcdonald, Judge.

         Geraldine appeals from an order terminating her parental rights in her child, B.S. The juvenile court terminated Geraldine's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018). On appeal, Geraldine challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing termination of her parental rights; claims the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) failed to make reasonable efforts toward reunification; claims she received ineffective assistance of counsel; suggests her constitutional right to equal protection was violated; and argues termination is not in the child's best interest due to Geraldine's close bond with B.S. Geraldine seeks reversal of the termination order or six additional months to work toward reunification.

         I.

         This 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 child[]." In re E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL 2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017).

         II.

         We first address Geraldine's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting termination of her rights pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h). She limits her challenge to the fourth element of paragraph (h). That 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." Id.

         Geraldine has struggled to maintain her sobriety throughout the pendency of these proceedings. She tested positive for methamphetamine several times. Following a period of sobriety, B.S. was returned to Geraldine's care only for Geraldine to stop complying with her mandatory drug testing. She missed twelve drug screenings from March 27, 2018 to July 17, 2018. Cf. In re C.W., No. 14-1501, 2014 WL 5865351, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 13, 2014) (noting missed ...


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