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In re K.J.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 19, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF K.J. and K.J., Minor Children, M.J., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Franklin County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the order terminating her parental rights.

          Barbara J. Westphal, Belmond, for appellant mother.

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

          Alesha M. Sigmeth Roberts of Sigmeth Roberts Law, PLC, Clarion, 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 decision terminating her parental rights. We find her request for a six-month extension is without merit and decline to apply any exceptions. We find termination is in the best interests of the children. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         M.J. is the mother of K.J., born in 2015, and K.J., born in 2016. J.T. is the father of the older child; A.I. is the father of the younger child. A.I. did not become involved in the proceedings until late 2017 and was incarcerated for the majority of the case. In this opinion, the terms "the father," "the family," and "the parents" refer to J.T.

         The family has been involved with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) since May 2015 due to the parents' use of illegal substances. On June 29, 2015, the older child was adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA). The child had been removed since the end of May due to the parents' substance abuse. In November 2015, the child transitioned back to the mother's care due to the parents' progress. In September 2016, the father was removed from the family home after he relapsed and failed to participate in services. In December, the mother also admitted to relapsing on methamphetamine.

         In February 2017, the State filed a petition to adjudicate the younger child CINA due to the parents' drug addiction. In March, the younger child was hospitalized following a brain injury.[1] Both children were then removed from the home. The older child was placed with the paternal grandparents, the younger child was placed in foster care. The mother stipulated to the adjudication of the younger child as CINA.

         For several months following the second removal, the mother did not comply with court orders or follow through with recommended treatment.[2] She continued to use methamphetamine and other drugs. The mother was inconsistent in attending visitation and missed medical appointments for the children. She was in jail at least twice after the removal. She successfully completed an intensive outpatient program in November 2017 and improved in all areas of concern while sober. She participated in family treatment court starting in November. In December she tested positive for methamphetamine in a DHS-requested hair test, but her subsequent tests for family treatment court were clean.

         In February 2018, the older child was placed with the father, and custody transitioned to the father in April; the younger child remained in foster care. By a June hearing, the court found the mother had been making substantial progress and was generally complying with recommendations. However, she began to make questionable choices in the men she dated and allowed to be around the children. The mother was granted additional time before permanency, but care was not returned to the mother due to concerns relating to a new relationship. The court ordered the ...


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