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In re L.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 25, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF L.L., Minor Child, K.K., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Delaware County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights.

          William A. Lansing of William A. Lansing, P.C., Dubuque, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until withdrawal) and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          Daniel H. Swift of Swift Law Firm, Manchester, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Greer, J., and Danilson, S.J. [*]

          DANILSON, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. The mother waived her due process claim by not citing any authority in support of her argument. We find the State engaged in reasonable efforts to reunite the mother with the child. The juvenile court properly denied the mother's requests to place the child in a guardianship and for an extension of time. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         K.K., mother, and L.L., father, are the parents of L.L., born in 2018. In June 2018, the father violated a no-contact order and came to the mother's home. The father accused the mother of practicing sorcery and putting an evil spirit on the child. While the mother was feeding the child, the father grabbed the mother by her hair and threw her down.[1] The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with the family. Subsequently, concerns arose about the child's failure to thrive[2] and the mother's substance abuse with methamphetamine. On August 16, 2018, the child was removed from the parents' care and placed with the maternal grandfather.

         The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance (CINA), pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(n) (2018). The mother tested positive for methamphetamine in August and September and did not attend random drug tests in October or November. At the dispositional hearing, held in November, the mother requested visits with the child at her home. The juvenile court determined visitation would occur at the discretion of DHS. In December, the mother again tested positive for methamphetamine. She did not appear for random drug tests in January 2019 and tested positive in February. The mother began two substance abuse treatment programs but did not complete them. To her credit she attended some individual therapy sessions for mental-health concerns.

         On February 21, the State filed a petition seeking to terminate the parents' rights. The mother then started a new substance-abuse treatment program, which she was attending at the time of the termination hearing on April 23. The parents had violated the no-contact order and were expecting another child. The mother stated she was no longer using illegal substances but still drank alcohol and did not feel this was a problem.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(h) and (l) (2019).[3] The court found, "The parents' volatile relationship and disregard of the no-contact order indicates the child cannot be returned to either parent at the present time." The court also noted the mother's "severe substance-related disorder." The court concluded DHS provided reasonable efforts to reunite the child with the mother. The court denied the requests for an extension of time and to place the child in a guardianship. The court determined termination of the mother's parental rights was in the child's best interests. The mother now appeals.

         II. ...


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