IN THE INTEREST OF J.S., Minor Child, M.S., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
Young of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry Brown
& Bergmann, LLP, Des Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
ConGarry D. Williams of State Public Defender Office, Des
Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
was removed from parental custody based on the parents'
substance abuse as well as concerns that the child's
health and hygiene were being compromised. The mother
admitted to using methamphetamine around the time of removal.
Both parents stipulated to the child's adjudication as a
child in need of assistance. The child remained out of
parental custody through termination hearings eighteen months
juvenile court terminated both parents' rights. Only the
mother appeals. She contends (1) the State failed to prove
the ground for termination cited by the court and (2)
termination was not in the child's best interests.
Grounds for Termination
juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2019), which
requires proof of several elements, including proof the child
cannot be returned to the parent's custody. The court
found the mother "made progress regarding her substance
abuse issues, including sustained sobriety."
Nonetheless, the court determined the child could not be
returned to her custody because the mother remained in a
relationship with "someone who was actively using
illegal substances" and had "unresolved domestic
violence issues." The record supports the court's
findings and determination.
the mother used methamphetamine at the time of removal, she
testified her drugs of choice were opiates, specifically
hydrocodone and oxycodone. She completed treatment for her
opiate addiction several months before the termination
hearings and largely maintained her sobriety thereafter. Her
progress prompted the department of human services to
transition her from a supervised to a semi-supervised
visitation plan with her child.
of the plan was short-lived. Following an overnight visit,
the child disclosed that a man with whom the mother had an
"on-again, off-again relationship" was present in
the mother's home. The man twice assaulted the mother two
years earlier and was ordered to have no contact with her.
Although the no-contact order had expired, the mother
understood that the department expected her to avoid reviving
the relationship in light of his history of domestic
violence, substance abuse, and child abuse. She also
understood visitation would remain supervised if she
reengaged with him. Her understanding of the department's
expectations was so clear that when she was confronted with
the child's disclosure, she lied about the relationship.
termination hearing, the mother acknowledged the relationship
and reaffirmed her intent to remain with the man even if it
would jeopardize her prospects of reunification with the
child. Although she later stated she would end her
involvement with him if the child were returned to the home,
her response when ...