from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Adam D.
Sauer, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
Michael J. Moeller of Sorensen & Moeller Law Office,
Clear Lake, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Crystal L. Ely of North Iowa Youth Law Center, Mason City,
attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her
parental rights. She claims the State did not show by clear
and convincing evidence her parental rights should be
terminated, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
failed to make reasonable efforts at reunification, and she
should be granted additional time. We find reasonable efforts
were made to reunify the family and the child could not be
safely returned to the mother's care even with additional
services and time. We affirm.
Background Facts & Proceedings
the mother of G.J., born in 2017. The mother listed several
putative fathers to the child throughout the proceedings. The
mother's rights had been terminated to an older child in
early 2016 following two years of services.
October 15, 2017, the child was removed from the mother's
care following a domestic dispute between the mother and her
paramour. The mother is deaf and mute. While law enforcement
were in the home investigating the domestic dispute, the
mother picked up and abruptly moved the three-month-old
infant back and forth in a jerky manner without supporting
the child's head, and the child's head struck the
mother's shoulder. The child was hospitalized for
observation and the mother was charged with child
endangerment. When released from the hospital, the child
was placed with the foster family that adopted the older
sibling. The child was adjudicated in need of assistance
(CINA) on December 1.
addition to services provided by DHS and Family Safety, Risk,
and Permanency services (FSRP), the mother also worked with
service providers from Deaf Iowans Against Abuse (DIAA) and
Crisis Intervention Service. In July, the court ordered
interpreters be present at all visitations and in-person
interactions between the mother, DHS, and FSRP.
mother preferred a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) to
American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, stating she
primarily spoke a pidgin version of sign language. The
interpreters available to DHS for in-person visits were ASL
interpreters; the only CDI interpreters meeting DHS standards
were based in other states. The mother was able to
communicate with the ASL interpreters. The court ordered the
CDI interpreters be available in person at court hearings,
and approved availability through a video chat during FSRP
and DHS sessions with the mother. Early in the case,
visitation occurred whether or not an interpreter was
available. Following the court's order, later visits
where an interpreter was not available were rescheduled.
FSRP, and the mother's DIAA advocate all worked to get
the mother into ASL classes to facilitate her communication
abilities. When the mother moved back to Mason City in
February, she no longer had transportation to in-person ASL
classes she was signed up for in Charles City. In August, the
DIAA advocate helped the mother enroll in an online ASL
class. The mother did not participate in any of the classes,
blaming her time in jail and then lack of an iPad as
preventing her attendance. The mother provided conflicting
communication information to providers. At times, she would
claim to be unable to ...