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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B. and A.B., Minor Children, M.Z., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Kurt J. Stoebe, Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Douglas Cook of Cook Law Firm, Jewell, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Sarah J. Livingston of Thatcher, Tofilon & Livingston, P.L.C., Fort Dodge, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. We find there is sufficient evidence in the record to support termination of the mother's parental rights. It is not in the children's best interests to give the mother additional time to work on reunification. Termination of the mother's rights is in the children's best interests. Although the father's rights could not be terminated at the time of the termination hearing because he had not received adequate notice, the court could proceed with termination of the mother's rights. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         M.B., mother, and A.Y.B., father, are the parents of A.B., born in 2008, and A.B., born in 2010.[1] In June 2016, the family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) due to allegations the mother was using methamphetamine while caring for the children. On August 25, the juvenile court determined the children were in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2016). The children were removed from the mother's care and placed in foster care.

         In September, the mother entered a substance-abuse treatment program and the children were placed there with her. She completed the program in December. After leaving the program the mother quickly relapsed, testing positive for methamphetamine, amphetamines, and ecstasy. The mother reentered the substance-abuse treatment program and the children went with her. The mother completed the program in June 2017. She and the children moved in with the maternal grandfather. Custody was formally returned to the mother in August.

         By late 2017, concerns arose the mother had again relapsed by using illegal substances. On December 2, the mother was arrested for harboring a fugitive in her home.[2] The children were removed from her care on December 7 and placed in foster care. In January 2018, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamines. She entered a new substance-abuse treatment program. While in treatment, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. She was inconsistent in addressing her mental-health problems. After graduating from the substance-abuse program in February, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine in March. On April 2, the juvenile court entered an order giving the mother an additional six months to work on reunification.

         The mother received a recommendation to attend an intensive outpatient program for her substance-abuse and mental-health problems. She was unsuccessfully discharged from the program due to sporadic attendance. The mother tested positive for marijuana in May and also missed several drug tests. Furthermore, the mother was missing about forty percent of her visits with the children. She was dishonest with service workers and not cooperative with services.

         On October 3, the State filed a petition seeking to terminate the parents' rights. The mother entered another substance-abuse treatment program in October and was unsuccessfully discharged in December. The father's whereabouts were unknown to DHS and he was served by publication for the CINA and termination cases. In February 2019, the father filed a motion seeking to vacate the ...


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