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In re D.D.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 25, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF D.D., Minor Child, A.D., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.

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

          Dusty Lea Clements of Clements Law and Mediation, Newton, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Paul White of Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          SCOTT, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. We find the juvenile court properly denied the mother's request to extend the case for an additional six months. We also find termination of the mother's parental rights is in the child's best interests. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         A.D. is the mother of D.D., born in 2018.[1] The mother has a long history of substance abuse. Her parental rights to an older child were terminated in 2017. This child was born with cocaine and opiates in her system. The child was removed on April 27, 2018 and placed in foster care. The mother also tested positive for cocaine and opiates. The juvenile court adjudicated the child to be in need of assistance, pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o) (2018).

         In June 2018, the mother was accepted into recovery court but was unsuccessfully discharged two weeks later. The mother began a substance-abuse treatment program in September 2018 and was discharged a few weeks later for bringing unauthorized prescription medications into the facility. She consistently attended visitation but was often late. She was inattentive to the child, often going outside for smoke breaks or to talk on the phone. She sometimes appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance during visits. The mother had a difficult time providing adequate care for the child during supervised visits.

         On January 7, 2019, the State filed a petition seeking to terminate the mother's parental rights. The mother had a substance-abuse evaluation on January 31. She entered a substance-abuse treatment program on March 12. She tested positive for opiates at the time of admission. She began to receive services for her mental health while she was in treatment. At the termination hearing, which was held on April 2, the mother testified the child could be placed in her care at the treatment facility.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's rights under section 232.116(1)(d), (g), (h), (i), and (l) (2019). The court found the State engaged in reasonable efforts to reunite the mother with the child. The court denied the mother's request for a six-month extension of the case. The court concluded termination is in the child's best interests and none of the exceptions in section 232.116(3) should be applied. The mother appeals.

         II. ...


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