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In re R.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 19, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF R.B., Minor Child, L.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton, District Associate Judge.

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

          Barbara E. Maness, Davenport, for appellant mother.

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

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

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights to her child, R.B.[1]On appeal, the mother contends the juvenile court erred (1) in waiving the reasonable-efforts requirement, (2) in concluding the child could not be returned to her care in the near future, (3) in declining to provide the mother with an additional six months to work toward reunification, and (4) in finding termination was in R.B.'s best interest. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         R.B. was born in 2018. Prior to R.B.'s birth, her mother had five other children. In November 2016, the mother came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) because of her drug use and neglect of her children. The juvenile court adjudicated each of the five as a child in need of assistance. All five were removed from the mother's care.[2] The mother was jailed for roughly one month for violating probation. Following her release, DHS attempted to engage the mother in services. The mother's response was poor: she did not show up for all of her drug testing; she did not complete recommended substance-abuse treatment; she did not attend parenting sessions; and she often missed visits with the children.

         In May 2017, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine, and THC. A new warrant was issued for her violation of probation requirements. The mother chose to remain out on warrant until she was finally arrested in March 2018. During that ten-month period, the mother did not contact DHS to check on the welfare of her children.

         In mid-March 2018, the mother was sentenced to prison. The mother gave birth to R.B. a few weeks later. R.B. was removed from the mother's custody at the hospital just days after her birth. R.B. has not seen her mother since.

         The juvenile court adjudicated R.B. as a child in need of assistance. DHS placed R.B. in the same foster home as two of her siblings.

         DHS made repeated efforts to facilitate visitation between R.B. and the mother. Those efforts failed because the mother declined to return documentation that would allow the care coordinator to bring R.B. to the prison.

         In July 2018, the juvenile court entered a dispositional order waiving the State's requirement to provide reasonable efforts toward reunification. In September 2018, the mother asked the court to reinstate the reasonable-efforts requirement. The court did not grant her request. On September ...


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