IN THE INTEREST OF B.B., Minor Child, K.N., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Iowa County, Jason A. Burns,
District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
J. Bishop, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
W. Davison, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Carr, S.J.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to
B.B., born April 2018. The family came to the attention of
the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) shortly after
B.B.'s birth when the mother tested positive for
methamphetamine and B.B.'s umbilical cord tested positive
for amphetamine and methamphetamine. B.B. was removed from
the parents' care before he left the hospital. At the
time of the hearing, B.B. had never lived with the mother and
the mother's visitation with B.B. was fully supervised
because of ongoing substance-abuse concerns.
after birth, DHS arranged for the mother to attend outpatient
substance-abuse treatment twice per month. At the time of the
hearing, she had attended five such appointments in eleven
months. DHS also arranged for the mother to undergo in-home
drug testing, but the testers never found the mother at home
over three months of attempts. DHS then arranged for on-site
drug testing for the mother. Between September 18, 2018, and
January 7, 2019, the mother presented for drug testing ten
times: three sweat patches tested positive for
methamphetamine, with the most recent positive patch on
November 27; three sweat patches tested negative; and four
urine samples tested negative. The mother did not present for
testing again until March 2, when she provided a urine sample
that tested negative for the presence of drugs. A social
worker testified that, in mid-February 2019, the mother told
her she was "struggling" with substance abuse but
denied using any prohibited substances. On February 28, the
mother underwent a substance-abuse evaluation with a
counselor. At the time of the hearing, the mother had since
attended four sessions with the counselor for substance abuse
and mental health. The counselor recommended the mother
attend inpatient substance abuse treatment, which was
scheduled to begin after the hearing. The mother testified
she had been sober since B.B.'s birth but stated, "I
know I'd have a better chance of getting my son back in
my care if I was in inpatient [treatment]." The social
worker testified she talked to the mother's counselor,
who told her the mother could attend inpatient treatment
because the mother said she was actively using illegal
State petitioned to terminate the mother's parental
rights, which proceeded to a hearing on March 13, 2019. On
May 3, the court terminated her parental
rights. We review termination proceedings de novo.
In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016).
the mother argues the State failed to prove the statutory
grounds for termination. The court terminated her parental
rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (l)
(2018). "On appeal, we may affirm the juvenile
court's termination order on any ground that we find
supported by clear and convincing evidence." In re
D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010).
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h),  the mother specifically
asserts the State failed to prove B.B. could not be placed in
her custody. The mother never progressed beyond fully
supervised visitation with B.B. because of substance-abuse
concerns. She admitted to using methamphetamine just before
B.B.'s birth in April 2018. She then tested positive for
methamphetamine in September, October, and November. She
failed to consistently participate in drug testing as she
completed no testing from B.B.'s birth until that
September test, and she again completed no testing between
January 7 and March 2, 2019. She missed all but five of her
twice-monthly substance-abuse treatment appointments since
B.B.'s birth. Despite conflicting testimony about the
reason she sought inpatient drug treatment, the court found
she told her counselor she was actively using
methamphetamine. The court concluded: "Either the mother
truthfully admitted ongoing methamphetamine use to her
[counselor] or the mother attempted to fabricate the
information with the [counselor] in order to influence the
Court's ultimate decision. Neither scenario is
acceptable." We agree. We also note the mother intended
to enter the inpatient treatment facility soon after the
hearing; however, while she submitted a printout from a
website that stated the facility accepted mothers and their
children during treatment, she provided no other evidence the
facility would allow B.B. to live with her during treatment.
The social worker further testified DHS would likely not
support B.B. living with the mother during inpatient
treatment. We find these ongoing substance-abuse concerns
provide clear and convincing evidence B.B. could not be
placed in her care. Because the mother does not contest the
other provisions of Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h), we find
the statutory grounds for termination are satisfied.
the mother argues termination is not in B.B.'s best
interests and the bond between them precludes termination.
See Iowa Code § 232.116(2), (3). As to the
bond, the child has never lived with the mother. The social
worker testified the two are bonded but B.B. has a stronger
bond with his foster parents. The social worker also
testified B.B. is adoptable and he needs to bond with the
people who will take care of him for the rest of his life.
Considering the relative weakness of their bond and the
mother's ongoing substance abuse as described ...