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In re C.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF C.L., Minor Child, A.M., Mother, Appellant.

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

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          John S. Moeller of John S. Moeller, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant mother.

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

          Meret Thali of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights. The mother contends the State failed to show the child could not be returned to her and termination of her parental rights is not in the child's best interest. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         A.M. is the mother of C.L., born in 2014. The child's father, R.L., has never been an active part of the child's life.[1]

         In January 2017, the mother was reported to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) due to concerns she could not care for the child. The mother began voluntary services. The mother suffers from kidney disease and has been on dialysis since before the child was born. She is at the end stage of renal failure and needs regular dialysis. The mother also has mental-health issues.

         The mother receives social security disability payments (SSDI) and is on Medicare and Medicaid for health benefits. She has lived in her apartment for four years. The mother and child moved in with the maternal grandparents temporarily in early 2017 but had moved back to the apartment by the summer of 2017. In July, the mother broke her hip and was unable to parent the child effectively. The mother reported her family members were not appropriate to take custody of the child. She asked for services to help her care for the child and to make a plan in case she passed away.

         The child was adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA) on October 6, 2017, pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (k) (2017). The mother requested a foster placement, and the child was removed on November 1 for placement with a foster family. The child was placed with a foster family and moved to another family at the end of March 2018 due to foster certification issues. The child was diagnosed with developmental and behavioral issues and attended speech and occupational therapy. During and immediately after visits with the mother, the child's behavior and communication often reverted to that of a much younger child. The child frequently exhibited escalated behaviors and tantrums at the end of visits. The foster family has provided a consistent, stable, and structured home environment, implementing behavioral development techniques to help the child.

         Throughout the case, the mother would be late to or need to cancel or shorten multiple visits due to her health. The mother did not always obtain approval from DHS for other persons to be present at visitations. The mother's visits were extended during the summer when the child did not have pre-school, but shortened when school started. At some summer visits, the mother needed to be woken up by the foster parents when she did not answer the door for visitation. In December 2018, the ...


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