IN THE INTEREST OF N.K. and D.E., Minor Children, M.K., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl Traum,
District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
Matthew D. Hatch of Hatch Law Firm, P.C., Bettendorf, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Capdevila, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with
this family in July 2017, after receiving reports of the
mother using drugs in the presence of her younger child,
D.E., born in March 2016. The mother has a history of
substance abuse and tested positive for methamphetamine in
August 2018. However, she refused to comply with offered
inpatient or outpatient treatment throughout DHS's
involvement. The State petitioned for termination of the
mother's parental rights, asserting the mother continued
to use drugs, failed to comply with substance-abuse
treatment, was homeless, and failed to prioritize her
children's needs. In February 2019, the district court
terminated the mother's parental rights to both N.K.,
born in January 2008, and D.E. The mother now appeals,
arguing the State failed to prove by clear and convincing
evidence that grounds for termination exist under Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(d), (e), (f), (h), and (l) (2018)
and termination was not in the best interests of the
review of termination proceedings is de novo. In re
M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). The mother first
argues the State failed to prove any of the grounds for
termination by clear and convincing evidence. However, the
mother actually concedes to the statutory grounds under Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(f) for N.K. and Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(h) for D.E. by admitting she required
additional time before the children could be returned to her.
At the termination hearing, she stated she was not ready to
resume care and acknowledged she had substance-abuse and
mental-health issues to address. She opined both at trial and
in her brief on appeal that she needs additional time before
the children can be returned to her. Based on the
record and the mother's admissions that the
children could not have been returned to her at the time of
the termination hearing, we find the State has met its burden
of proving grounds for termination under both Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(f) as to N.K. and Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(h) as to D.E. See In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d
764, 774 (Iowa 2012) ("When the juvenile court
terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground,
we may affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground we
find supported by the record.").
mother also asserts termination is not in the best interests
of the children because severing her bond with them "can
cause long term damage to the children's mental and
emotional health." See Iowa Code §
232.116(2), (3). "In considering whether to terminate
the rights of a parent . . ., the court shall give primary
consideration to the child[ren]'s safety, to the best
placement for furthering the long-term nurturing and growth
of the child[ren], and to the physical, mental, and emotional
condition and needs of the child[ren]." Id.
§ 232.116(2). The mother admits that she has not
addressed her substance-abuse and mental-health issues and
that anxiety and "underlying issues" have even
impeded her ability to take advantage of visits with the
children. Moreover, she acknowledges the children are doing
well placed with a family member. Because the children's
safety and need for a permanent home are "defining
elements" for the best-interests determination, we find
termination is appropriate. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d
793, 802 (Iowa 2006) (Cady, J., specially concurring).
 Paragraph (f) provides termination is