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In re W.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF W.B. and A.B.-S., Minor Children, S.S., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Stephanie Forker Perry, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental relationship with her two daughters. AFFIRMED.

          Jessica R. Noll of Deck Law PLC, Sioux City, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Molly Vakulskas Joly, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          TABOR, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Sarah appeals the termination of her parental relationship with her daughters, two-year-old W.B. and eight-year-old A.B.-S. Sarah's petition on appeal raises three claims:

• The State did not meet the statutory requirements for termination.
• Termination is not in the children's best interests because of their strong bond with her.
• The juvenile court should have granted six more months for Sarah to regain custody of the children.

         After reviewing the factual record and legal arguments anew, we reach the same result as the juvenile court.[1] Because of her untreated substance abuse and overall instability, Sarah cannot resume care of her daughters, now or in the foreseeable future. Their best interests are served by moving toward permanency through severance of their legal ties with Sarah.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         A.B.-S. was born in October 2010; her father is Ryan. W.B. was born in January 2017; her father is Joshua.[2] The family drew the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) at W.B.'s birth. When the newborn tested positive for marijuana, Sarah agreed to a safety plan.

         Drug testing was part of that safety plan. But in July 2017, when W.B. was six months old, Sarah refused to submit to urinalysis, admitting the test would come back positive. Along with her own substance-abuse concerns, Sarah recognized the danger of allowing Joshua to care for W.B. because of his alcohol abuse. Yet she left W.B. with Joshua for an overnight visit, against the DHS's directions. Sarah described herself as "addicted to Josh."

         In summer of 2017, police arrested Sarah for domestic abuse assault as a serious misdemeanor, assault as a simple misdemeanor, and criminal mischief. The police reported Sarah "sprayed Joshua in the face with spray paint, threw a glass at him that cut his neck, swung a bat at him but missed, and assaulted Joshua's 77-year-old grandmother" by spitting on her and punching her in the face. W.B. remained in Joshua's care for four days ...


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