IN THE INTEREST OF K.M., Minor Child, R.R., Mother, Appellant, S.M., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Cedar County, Gary P.
Strausser, District Associate Judge.
mother and father separately appeal the termination of their
parental rights to their child.
Strain Linder of Bray & Klockau, Iowa City, for appellant
Renee Jones of Norton, Baumann & Surls, PLLC, Lowden, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Schroeder of Schroeder Law Firm PLC, West Liberty, attorney
and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.
juvenile court terminated a mother and father's parental
rights to their child, K.M. On appeal, both parents contend
the juvenile court erred (1) in concluding the statutory
requirements for termination were satisfied. Additionally,
the mother contends the juvenile court erred (2) in declining
to provide her with an additional six months to work toward
reunification, (3) in finding termination is in K.M.'s
best interest, and (4) in terminating despite a strong
parent-child bond and K.M.'s placement with a relative.
We affirm the juvenile court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
was born in 2017. Prior to K.M.'s birth, the parents'
drug use led the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to
become involved with respect to their older
children. The mother continued to use
methamphetamine while pregnant with K.M. The mother gave
birth to K.M. three weeks early; as a result, K.M. had to
stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for one week.
K.M.'s umbilical cord blood tested positive for
amphetamines and methamphetamine. The mother also tested
positive for amphetamines.
juvenile court issued an emergency order removing K.M. from
both parents' care. The court then adjudicated K.M. as a
child in need of assistance and placed K.M. in the custody of
a maternal aunt.
experienced difficulty in providing services to the parents.
The parents' phones were shut off at one point,
preventing communication with DHS. And the parents failed to
meet with the social worker tasked with compiling their
social history. Likewise, both parents often arrived late or
failed to attend visitation, though the mother attended more
often than the father. During visitation, the mother
sometimes exhibited signs of stimulant crash, such as
sleeping so soundly that the care coordinator had to wake her
also began to grow between the mother and her sister,
K.M.'s placement. The mother believed her sister intended
to "steal" K.M. The mother's sister grew
suspicious that the mother continued to abuse
methamphetamine. She also felt the mother had become
belligerent toward her and did not respect her or her
husband. As a result, the sister ultimately refused to
supervise any additional visitation for the parents.
after K.M.'s birth, the mother sought intensive
outpatient substance-abuse treatment, but she failed to
attend individual appointments or group therapy. This
prompted the treatment facility to recommend the mother be
reevaluated to determine her treatment options. The mother
showed signs of drug use at a January 2018 meeting. She
tested positive for methamphetamine in March 2018. However,
the mother began substance-abuse treatment that same month.
According to a July 2018 letter from her care provider, the
mother continued to progress in treatment up to that point in
the father also struggled with substance abuse, testing
positive for amphetamines and methamphetamine in December
2017. And he exhibited signs of drug use at the January 2018
meeting. In February 2018, the father completed a
substance-abuse evaluation, which recommended extended
outpatient treatment. In March 2018, he again tested positive
for methamphetamine. The father entered substance-abuse
treatment in April 2018 but did not complete the program.
juvenile court held a termination hearing in July 2018. The
parents arrived late without explanation. The juvenile court
ordered both parents to submit to drug testing, which was
available in the courthouse. The mother's results were
negative, but the father tested positive for methamphetamine
March 14, 2019, the juvenile court terminated both the mother
and father's parental rights to K.M. pursuant to Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(e), (h), and (l) (2018).
Both parents appealed. Our supreme court transferred the case
to this court.