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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., Minor Child, F.C., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals a district court order terminating her parental rights to her child. AFFIRMED.

          Maura C. Goaley, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Sara E. Benson of Benson Law, P.C., Council Bluffs, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and May, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE

         A mother appeals a district court order terminating her parental rights to her child, born in 2016. She contends (1) the record lacks clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds for termination cited by the court; (2) the department of human services did not make reasonable reunification efforts; and (3) termination is not in the child's best interests.

         The district court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to two statutory grounds. We may affirm if we find clear and convincing evidence to support either of the grounds. See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010). We focus on Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018), which requires proof of several elements, including proof the child cannot be returned to the parent's custody.

         Our de novo review of the record reveals the following facts. When the child was less than one year old, his mother left him with two men while she went to the store to get cigarettes. On her return, the mother saw the men outside the apartment, without her son. The child's grandmother called the police, who found drug paraphernalia throughout the apartment. The child's father admitted he regularly used marijuana and other illegal substances. The mother denied drug use but conceded knowledge of the father's usage and her presence in the apartment with the child while the father was consuming the substances.

         The State charged both parents with child endangerment. The mother was ultimately placed on probation. The father, who was on probation at the time of the charge, had his probation revoked and served a six-month prison sentence.

         Meanwhile, police took the child into protective custody. The district court transferred him to the department's temporary custody and the department, in turn, placed the child with his paternal grandmother.

         The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance petition. The department afforded the mother two to three supervised visits per week and provided assistance in "obtain[ing] and demonstrat[ing] safe and appropriate parenting techniques." The visits remained fully supervised throughout the proceedings. At the termination hearing, the case manager testified the mother's parenting skills had "not progressed enough to deem her safe and appropriate to have [the child] unsupervised . . . and her cognitive abilities" relating to parenting the child were "questionable." She noted that when the mother was "out in the community" on supervised visits, she required "continuous prompting on parenting skills." Although the case manager acknowledged the mother showed "progress and . . . interest" in services, she recommended against returning the child to her custody.

         The district court adopted the recommendation, reasoning the mother "progressed to the point where she [could] live on her own and care for herself but not [the child]." We concur in the court's reasoning. We ...


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