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In re B.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF B.W., Minor Child, M.W., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Phillip J. Tabor, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          Neill A. Kroeger, LeClaire, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Marsha J. Arnold, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         The juvenile court terminated a mother's parental rights to her child, B.W. On appeal, the mother argues (1) termination is not in B.W.'s best interest due to their strong parent-child bond, (2) B.W.'s placement with relatives should preclude termination, and (3) the juvenile court should have established a guardianship rather than terminating her parental rights. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         B.W. was born in 2007. Her mother is a single parent.

         In August 2017, B.W.'s adult half-brother and his wife contacted the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) about B.W.'s welfare. They were concerned because B.W.'s mother left B.W. for roughly seven weeks without a care plan in place.

         In January 2018, DHS again received reports regarding the mother's lack of parental supervision. DHS was advised that the mother often left B.W. in the care of others for extended periods of time without access to medical care or financial support. Reporting individuals also expressed concern that the mother was engaged in sex work and abused drugs.

         At the request of DHS, the mother submitted to drug testing. She tested positive for methamphetamine but denied any substance use. She contended she tested positive because "she was 'withdrawing from Adderall' after she took unknown pills from a friend that made her feel 'good and alert.'"

         On January 18, 2018, the juvenile court issued an order temporarily removing B.W. from the mother's custody. In March 2018, the court adjudicated B.W. as a child in the need of assistance and formally removed B.W. from the mother's care. In July 2018, DHS placed B.W. with her adult half-brother and his wife. B.W. has remained in their physical care since July 31, 2018.

         The mother began supervised visitation with B.W. Initially, it went well. However, the mother's participation in visitation became unreliable. For example, on one occasion Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) worker Sherri Zirbes brought B.W. to the mother's apartment for a scheduled visit, but the mother was not home and did not answer her phone when called. Sherri and B.W. sat in the hallway for forty-five minutes waiting for the mother to arrive home to begin visitation. The mother also cancelled visitations for various reasons. On several occasions, she could not be reached by ...


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