IN THE INTEREST OF A.M., Minor Child, C.M., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox,
District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her
parental relationship with her five-year-old daughter.
Jessica J. Chandler of Chandler Law Offices, Windsor Heights,
for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Michael Sorci of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
mother, Cynthia, appeals the termination of her parental
relationship with her five-year-old daughter A.M. At the
October 2018 termination hearing, Cynthia acknowledged she
had not fully addressed her methamphetamine use, her mental
health issues, her housing instability, her struggles with
abusive partners, or her criminal entanglements. These forces
resulted in Cynthia losing custody of two other children in
May 2018. In October 2018, the State petitioned to
terminate Cynthia's parental rights to A.M. under Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (g) (2018). The juvenile court
granted the petition. After an independent review of the record,
agree the State offered ample evidence in support of
the juvenile court terminates a parent's rights on more
than one ground, "we need only find termination
appropriate under one of these sections to affirm."
In re J.B.L., 844 N.W.2d 703, 704 (Iowa Ct. App.
2014). We focus on section 232.116(1)(f). That section
requires proof of four elements: (1) the child must be at
least four years old; (2) the child must have been
adjudicated in need of assistance; (3) the child must have
been removed from the home for at least twelve of the last
eighteen months, or for the last twelve consecutive months
with any period at home being less than thirty days; and (4)
the child cannot be returned to the home as provided in
section 232.102 at the present time. Iowa Code §
first three elements are uncontested. A.M. turned five about
one month after the termination hearing. The court
adjudicated A.M. as a child in need of assistance in April
2017 because Cynthia was using methamphetamine while caring
for A.M. and her siblings. The adjudication order noted a
history of Cynthia exposing A.M. to domestic violence,
unstable housing, mental health issues, as well as substance
abuse. A.M. was out of her mother's custody for more than
one year by the time of the termination hearing.
fourth element, Cynthia now claims A.M. could have been
returned to her care. Although Cynthia was in jail on pending
theft charges at the time of the termination hearing, she
expected to be released in a matter of days or weeks. She
testified A.M. could be returned to her care in "maybe
two or three months." Cynthia told the court she needed
to secure a job, "find someplace stable to stay,"
and return to substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Cynthia's goals were laudable, she had too much to
accomplish to resume care of A.M. at the time of the
termination hearing. See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703,
707 (Iowa 2010) (noting the record did not reveal any
evidence the child could be safely returned home "at the
time of the termination hearing"). We find termination
was proper under paragraph (f).
setting out a separate issue, Cynthia mentions in passing
that she "does not believe it to be in A.M.'s best
interest that [her] rights be terminated, and believes that a
guardianship would be the permanency option best suited for
A.M." Such casual allusion to her beliefs does not merit
review. See State v. Mann, 602 N.W.2d 785, 788 n.1
(Iowa 1999) (explaining random mention of an issue, without
elaboration or supporting authority, is insufficient to
prompt an appellate court's consideration). But even if
Cynthia had squarely presented those issues, they would not
merit relief. The record shows moving toward permanency was
in A.M.'s best interests because she was "confused
after visits with her mother" and was struggling with
the uncertainty of the current situation. See Iowa
Code § 232.116(2) ...