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In re M.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF M.R., Minor Child, M.R., Father, Appellant, A.R.. Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Brendan Greiner, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the order terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Jeremy M. Evans of Carr Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Tara M. Elcock of Elcock Law Firm PLC, Indianola, for appellant mother.

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

          Yvonne C. Naanep, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother and father separately appeal the juvenile court decision terminating their parental rights. They independently claim the evidence was insufficient to support termination, the court should have granted additional time for them to resolve their issues, and exceptions to termination apply. We find sufficient evidence supports the termination, additional time is not warranted, and no exceptions preclude termination. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         M.R., father, and A.R., mother, are the parents of M.R., born in 2013. On December 30, 2017, the parents were arrested for shoplifting; M.R. was with them. Law enforcement found drug paraphernalia on both parents, and the parents admitted to regularly using heroin and prescription drugs while the child was in the home. The child was placed with the maternal grandparents, and on January 2, 2018, the parents consented to the child's removal and placement with the grandparents. On February 14, the child was adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA). After a dispositional hearing in March, the court ordered both parents to address their substance-abuse and mental-health issues.

         The father, who is thirty-two years of age, has a long history with drugs, including marijuana and prescription opioids since he was a teenager; after a sober period, in 2012 he began taking pain pills again, progressing to heroin use in 2016. He began using methamphetamine in mid-2017. The father attended inpatient treatment in February 2018. He started family treatment court in February, but at the end of March tested positive for multiple opioids and methamphetamine. At the end of April, the father pleaded guilty to a drug offense dating from September 2017, and the court sentenced him to fifteen years in prison. He had no visits with the child while incarcerated, but he did call every week to talk with the child. The father paroled out of prison in January 2019. After his release from prison, he admitted a single use of methamphetamine approximately two weeks prior to the termination hearing.

         The mother started taking prescription opioids following a back injury, using more over time and turning to heroin in 2016. Following the removal, she started family treatment court in February and continued with the court through relapses and various treatment programs. In October, she failed to attend her court dates and was suspended from the family treatment program. The mother was inconsistent in complying with testing and occasionally tested positive for opioids or methamphetamine. The mother testified to regularly using methamphetamine for the majority of the case. Throughout the case, she started multiple inpatient and outpatient treatment programs but did not complete them. The mother was inconsistent in attending visitation and would sometimes appear to be under the influence of drugs. She did not call the child to talk on days without visits. The mother had been in treatment for just over two weeks at the time of the termination hearing, with her last admitted drug use earlier in the month.

         On December 28, 2018, the State filed a petition to terminate the rights of both parents. A trial was held on February 25, 2019. The court heard testimony from the mother, the father, the family services worker, the social worker, and the maternal grandmother. The parents were both sober the day of the termination hearing. On March 13, 2019, the court terminated each ...


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