IN THE INTEREST OF C.P., Minor Child, E.P., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox,
District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
Christine E. Branstad of Branstad & Olson Law Office, Des
Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Vogan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian
ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Greer, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to
C.P., her minor child. The juvenile court terminated her
parental rights to C.P. pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2018). She does not contest the
statutory grounds on which the juvenile court terminated her
parental rights. Instead, she only argues the juvenile court
erred by placing C.P. in the guardianship of the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) instead of the
guardianship of H.P., C.P.'s maternal aunt.
time of the termination hearing, C.P. was nine years old. He
lived with the mother; the mother's significant other,
E.P., whom C.P. had been led to believe was his biological
father; and another child. C.P. first interacted with DHS in
August 2016, after the mother tested positive for
methamphetamine and amphetamines. In September 2016, the
mother agreed to a safety plan under which she would only be
at home during the day. She did not abide by the plan, and
C.P. and the other child were each adjudicated a child in
need of assistance in October 2016. The children were allowed
to remain in E.P.'s custody under DHS supervision. C.P.
and the other child were removed from E.P. and the
mother's care in February 2017, but they were allowed to
return to E.P.'s care after the juvenile court entered a
no-contact order prohibiting E.P. from contacting the mother.
and the other child were removed from E.P.'s care and
placed with H.P. in April 2018. H.P. is the former spouse of
E.P.'s brother. During this time, DHS claims H.P.
facilitated an unsupervised overnight visit between the
mother and C.P. outside her home, although H.P. denies this
visit occurred. Two months later, H.P. contacted DHS and
notified the department she would no longer be able to care
for the children because she no longer had the resources to
children were then moved to live with M.B. and J.B.,
grandparents of the other child. While placed with them, DHS
reported the mother had visited C.P. in M.B. and J.B.'s
home, and noted H.P., M.B., and J.B. had not been "able
to keep the boundaries" between the mother and C.P. In
October 2018, M.B. and J.B. informed DHS they could not care
for C.P. or the other child. C.P. was placed in foster care,
where he has remained.
termination hearing was held on November 29, 2018. At the
hearing, the mother conceded she could not care for C.P. due
to her ongoing substance-abuse issues but argued guardianship
with H.P. should be the ultimate resolution of the case, with
phone contact permitted between the mother, C.P., and the
other child. That same day, H.P. filed a letter to the
juvenile court, requesting guardianship of C.P. The juvenile
court issued a termination order on January 28, 2019,
terminating the mother's parental rights to C.P., denying
her request to place C.P. in H.P.'s guardianship, and
placing C.P. in DHS's guardianship and custody in order
to find permanent placement with a foster family. The mother
review termination proceedings de novo. In re L.T.,
924 N.W.2d 521, 526 (Iowa 2019). "We are not bound by
the juvenile court's findings of fact, but we do give
them weight, especially in assessing the credibility of
witnesses." In re D.W., 791, N.W.2d 703, 706
de novo review, we conclude termination is proper. While the
mother "seeks a reversal of the Juvenile Court Order
terminating her parental rights," she does not dispute
the statutory grounds on which her parental rights were
terminated, argue termination is not in C.P.'s best
interest, or point to any of the factors weighing against
termination enumerated in section 232.116(3). Instead, she
only argues the juvenile court abused its discretion by
"failing to consider placement and guardianship of C.P.
by H.P." The mother points to section 232.117,
which contemplates what the juvenile court shall do after
ordering the termination of parental rights, such as