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In re N.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF N.S. and N.S., Minor Children, K.K., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Stephanie Forker Parry, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          John S. Moeller of John S. Moeller, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant mother.

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

          Meret Thali of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. The mother claims the children could be returned to her care at the time of the hearing or in the near future. We find the State established by clear and convincing evidence the children could not be returned to the mother, and termination is in the children's best interests.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         K.K. is the mother of N.M.S., born in 2014, and N.J.S., born in 2016. On January 29, 2017, the mother was arrested for possession of methamphetamine in the home and two counts of child endangerment. The children's father, A.S., was in prison at the time. The parents have a history of domestic violence and drug use.

         The children remained in the mother's custody subject to protective supervision by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). The mother and children moved in with the mother's father, then later moved to her mother's home. On March 27, the children were adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(a), (c)(2), and (n) (2017). In April, the infant tested positive for exposure to methamphetamine.

         The mother pleaded guilty to a charge of child endangerment and received a suspended sentence. The mother sporadically participated in services including drug testing, mental-health treatment, substance-abuse evaluations and treatment, and parenting classes. The mother often showed initial interest in a service, but then failed to follow through with the programming. The mother told workers she did not feel she needed treatment and she did not have a substance- abuse problem. The father was paroled to Minnesota in August, and the parents began weekend visits.

         One morning in early September, the older child, then two years of age, was found underdressed and alone across the street from the home while the mother slept; officers found the door to the home wide open. The mother admitted to relapsing on methamphetamine that week and later admitted to having used methamphetamine and marijuana weekly between January and September. The children were placed with the maternal grandmother with a safety plan. The mother continued to live in the home while clean and sober, but she was no longer allowed unsupervised care of the children. On January 3, 2018, the court moved the children to the custody of DHS, which placed them with the maternal grandmother.

         In November 2017, the mother was accepted into family treatment court but was released in January 2018 due to noncompliance. A domestic-violence incident occurred between the parents in late December. The mother began missing appointments with her probation officer and admitted using marijuana and methamphetamine. During a traffic stop of the parents in February, marijuana, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia were found on the mother's person and in the vehicle. The drugs were attributed to the father and he was ...


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