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In re L.T.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF L.T., A.T., and D.T., Minor Children, K.T., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Cynthia S. Finley, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Ellen R. Ramsey-Kacena, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Inc., Cedar Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         The mother's rights to these children were at issue at a termination-of-parental-rights (TPR) hearing in November 2016. After an extended delay, the juvenile court entered a written order in July 2018, terminating the mother's parental rights. The mother appealed, and in In re L.T., 924521, 530 (Iowa 2019), our supreme court reversed the termination and remanded to the juvenile court.[1] The termination hearing on remand took place in April 2019, and the juvenile court again found the grounds to terminate the mother's parental rights. The mother appeals, arguing the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to make reasonable efforts until the July 2018 termination order was entered and termination of her rights is not in the children's best interests. She also asks for additional time to work toward reunification with the children.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The mother has a history of involvement with DHS and the juvenile court; her parental rights to two other children were terminated in 2011. The mother's substance abuse, mental-health issues, and instability were at the heart of the case.

         DHS became involved with the mother in the present case in May 2015, when D.T. was born testing positive for amphetamines. At that time, L.T. was two years old and A.T. was one year old.

         Both the mother and father tested positive for methamphetamine, and all three children were placed in foster care. By Thanksgiving 2015, all three were in the care of their foster mother, Samantha, who has remained their caretaker at all times since.

         The mother's use of methamphetamine continued, and a hearing on the petition for termination of the parental rights took place in November 2016. At that hearing, the mother acknowledged using methamphetamine one week earlier and stated she "absolutely" needed treatment for her abuse of substances. The juvenile court deemed the matter submitted in late November.

         The State sought to reopen the record, and its request was granted. At the May 23, 2017 hearing for that purpose, the State admitted additional exhibits. The mother testified she received notice she was approved for subsidized housing. The mother was unemployed and, though she was attending substance-abuse treatment, admitted to relapsing on methamphetamine in February and April 2017 and not attending a drug screen one week earlier. At the close of the hearing, the court stated from the bench that it was going to grant the State's petition to terminate ...


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