IN THE INTEREST OF R.S., Minor Child, J.F., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Fremont County, Eric J.
Nelson, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights.
R. Danley, Sidney, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Katherine Murphy of Kate Murphy Law, PLC, Glenwood, for
appellee father. Jaclyn Tackett of Tackett Law Offices,
Glenwood, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Greer,
juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights to
her child, R.S., under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f)
(2019). On appeal, the mother argues: (1) termination is not
required because the child was in the father's care, (2)
termination is not in the child's best interests, (3) the
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to provide
appropriate services, and (4) the exception in Iowa Code
section 232.116(3)(a) should apply since the father has legal
custody. On our de novo review and for the reasons explained
below, we affirm the juvenile court's termination of the
mother's parental rights.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to
R.S., born January 2014. Prior to involvement by DHS,
R.S.'s mother and father lived separately and had joint
legal custody and shared physical care of R.S.
November 16, 2017, DHS received a report of unsafe conditions
in the home R.S. shared with the mother and the mother's
paramour. The report indicated that the mother and the
paramour appeared to be significantly impaired by unknown
substances, the home was dirty, there was moldy food on the
floor, and the furnace pilot light was open to access by
three-year-old R.S. R.S. was removed from the mother's
care that day and placed with his father and stepmother. The
next day, a DHS worker reported the mother admitted to
recently abusing her prescriptions for Xanax and Adderall and
using marijuana and methamphetamine.
December 4, 2017, R.S. underwent a hair stat test, which was
positive for methamphetamine. The mother was charged with and
later pled guilty to child endangerment related to her care
of R.S., and she was sentenced to probation. On December 11,
2018, the mother was arrested for violation of her earlier
probation, and she remained in jail at the time of the
to a report from DHS, the mother admitted to using
methamphetamine-while sometimes also abusing Xanax-in
February, March, August, and December 2018. Since R.S.'s
removal, the mother has successfully completed mental-health
and substance-abuse evaluations, unsuccessfully attempted
outpatient treatment, successfully completed inpatient and
halfway treatment, and again unsuccessfully attempted
outpatient treatment. At the time of the termination hearing,
the mother was incarcerated but hoped to participate in a
drug court program, which requires treatment in inpatient,
halfway, and outpatient settings over eighteen to twenty-four
State petitioned to terminate the mother's parental
rights, which proceeded to a hearing on February 27,
2019. On April 29, the juvenile court terminated
the mother's parental rights under Iowa Code section