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In re D.F.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF D.F. and M.S., Minor Children, D.S., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court's termination of her parental rights.

          Karen A. Taylor, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

          Lynn Vogan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Jean Baker of Jean M. Baker Law Office, West Des Moines, attorney 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. We find clear and convincing evidence supports the termination and termination is in the children's best interests.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         D.S. is the mother of D.F., born in 2003, and M.S., born in 2007. The family resided with J.F., father of D.F. The family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in April 2017, when the mother was charged with public intoxication and child endangerment after biting M.S. during an argument over a cell phone.[1] In June, DHS received a complaint the mother was using methamphetamine and was frequently absent from the home for days or weeks at a time. The father was feeling overwhelmed and experiencing financial difficulties; he was hospitalized at the time for having made threats of self-harm while intoxicated. The children ran away from home for brief periods, would not follow rules, and exhibited behavioral problems.

         In late July, the mother was arrested on possession of methamphetamine charges after a traffic stop where she was a passenger in a stolen car. The children were removed from the mother's custody and placed with the father. On October 4 the children were adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA).

         In November, the father and children were evicted from their home and moved to a shelter. In December, when the family's shelter time was up, the children were removed from the father's custody and placed in separate foster homes. Starting in February, M.S. was placed at a youth shelter. In April 2018, the children were placed together in a single foster home.

         The mother was incarcerated multiple times on a variety of charges. When not incarcerated, she did not have housing. The mother only attended a total of ten visits from the time of removal and only one visitation in 2018, on February 28. While incarcerated, she initiated a single collect call to the children, and some video chats occurred due to the foster parents' facilitation of the contact. When she was not incarcerated, the mother did not provide contact information to the children or DHS or make efforts to contact or see the children. The mother did not contribute to the financial support of the children throughout the CINA case. The only treatment attended by the mother was required during incarceration or for her criminal probation, and she was dismissed and returned to general incarceration after ...


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