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In re N.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF N.R., Minor Child, A.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Mary Jane Sokolovske, Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          Joseph W. Kertels of the Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, for appellant mother.

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

          Patrick T. Parry of Mayne, Hindman, Daane & Parry, Sioux City, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. She contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and asks for additional time to have the child returned to her care. We review her claims de novo. See In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018).

         The child was born in 2015. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with the family in 2015 because the mother was a minor and had herself been adjudicated to be a child in need of assistance (CINA). The State filed a CINA petition regarding the child but dismissed it when the mother entered the House of Mercy program with the child. The mother was in the program from January 2015 until her graduation in September 2015.

         The child was removed from the mother's care in March 2016 after the mother and child went missing for at least two days and upon concerns that the mother was using illegal drugs. The child was in and out of the mother's care in the year that followed.[1] The child has not been in her care since removal in February 2017. The juvenile court adjudicated the child to be a CINA following a May 2016 hearing.

         In August 2017, the juvenile court granted the mother an additional three months to work toward reunification. At the time, the mother was pregnant as a result of a new relationship. As with her past relationships, this one also involved domestic violence, but a no-contact order was entered following her partner's arrest in July 2017. In spite of this, the mother continued the relationship and became engaged to the father of her new child, who was born in December 2017. The State filed a petition to terminate the mother's parental rights in December 2017. The termination hearing was held in August 2018. In January 2019, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (i) (2017).

         The mother first contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. Although the juvenile court terminated parental rights on more than one ground, we need only find grounds to terminate under one of the subsections cited by the juvenile court to affirm. See In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999). In order to terminate under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h), the State must prove the following by clear and convincing evidence:

(1) The child is three years of age or younger.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant ...

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