IN THE INTEREST OF N.R., Minor Child, B.P., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
R. Stockdale, West Des Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Magdalena B. Reese, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her
parental rights. She claims the child could have been
returned to her care at the time of the hearing and,
alternatively, requests an additional six months to reunite
with the child. We affirm.
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo. In
re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012). "There
must be clear and convincing evidence of the grounds for
termination of parental rights." In re M.W.,
876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). There is clear and
convincing evidence where there are "no serious or
substantial doubts as to the correctness [of] conclusions of
law drawn from the evidence." In re D.W., 791
N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) (citation omitted). The paramount
concern in termination proceedings is the best interest of
the child. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa
the mother of N.R., born in 2014. S.R. is the mother's
long-time paramour and biological father of N.R.; J.U., the
mother's husband, is the legal father of the child. J.U.
has not been a part of the child's life and did not
participate at any point in the proceedings. The mother's
rights to two other children were terminated in 2010, due in
part to substance-abuse problems.
December 2017, the mother was reported to the Iowa Department
of Human Services (DHS) for using methamphetamine. The child
had been staying with the paternal grandmother since July due
to the parents' lack of housing. In January 2018, the
mother consented to the removal of the child when her drug
use resulted in the revocation of her probation and
incarceration. The child was adjudicated a child in need of
assistance (CINA) on March 23. In April, the child was placed
in a paternal uncle's home.
mother has a twenty-year history of methamphetamine use, with
a sober period of several years including the time period
when she was pregnant with the child. She admitted to
relapsing in early 2017. Despite the removal of the child and
revocation of her probation in the beginning of 2018, the
mother did not seek treatment until May 31, when she entered
an inpatient treatment program following three months in
jail. She struggled with the schedule and rules of the
residential program and left in July. She successfully
continued her treatment on an outpatient basis; at the time
of termination the mother had been sober for nearly one year.
However, the juvenile court noted she was living with the
biological father, with whom she had used drugs in the past.
Both parents were members of a Facebook group depicting drug
use, which they claimed was motivation to stay sober.
mother did not reliably attend visitation until she entered
treatment. Visitation remained supervised through the
termination hearing, in part due to the parents'
defensiveness and raised voices in response to any changes or
information requests. The mother did not consistently call
the child to maintain contact outside visitation hours. When
the child was hospitalized three days in September 2018 for
surgery, the mother only visited when the father was
available to visit-during the surgery itself and
approximately one hour of the following two days while the
child was in recovery. She did not follow through with
additional supervised time offered by the child's
guardian and turned down the chance to spend Christmas with
the child at the guardian's home.
child began individual therapy in mid-June; the child's
therapist also conducted family sessions with the parents and
child. The child was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder
with anxiety. The therapist and DHS recommended individual
therapy for the parents, but they did not consistently comply
with the recommendation until November. In addition to
the child's and family therapy, the parents began
couple's therapy to develop their relationship and
parenting abilities. The mother attended mental-health
sessions while in substance-abuse treatment. The child's
therapist was concerned by family therapy incidents where the
father would raise ...