IN THE INTEREST OF D.S. and X.L., Minor Children, D.H., Mother, Appellant, L.L., Father of X.L., Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Kimberly
Ayotte, District Associate Judge.
mother and father separately appeal the termination of their
M. Pope of Branstad & Olson Law Office, Des Moines, for
Nicholas Einwalter, Des Moines, for appellant father of X.L.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until
withdrawal) and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General,
for appellee State.
White of Juvenile Public Defender Office, Des Moines,
attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
mother and father separately appeal the juvenile court
decision terminating their parental rights. Statutory grounds
for termination of parental rights exist as to each parent,
an extension is unwarranted, and termination is in the
children's best interests. We affirm on both appeals.
Background Facts & Proceedings
the mother of X.L., born in 2016, and D.S., born in 2017.
L.L. is X.L.'s father; J.S. is the father of D.S. The
mother's rights had been terminated to another child in
2014 due to the mother's substance-abuse and
mental-health issues and gaps in visitation.
December 29, 2016, X.L. was removed from the mother's
care when the child was found with the mother in the location
of a drug bust. The mother was actively using methamphetamine
and marijuana. At that time, L.L. was in jail for violating a
domestic abuse no-contact order prohibiting contact with the
mother. On February 7, 2017, X.L. was adjudicated a child in
need of assistance (CINA). The mother participated in
services and treatment, and X.L was returned to her care.
D.S. remained in the mother's custody after birth. The
CINA case was closed on August 21, 2018, with a safety order
in place and X.L. in the mother's sole legal custody.
L.L. did not participate in any services relating to domestic
violence or substance abuse.
after the CINA case closed, the Department of Human Services
(DHS) received reports of domestic violence between the
mother and L.L. in the children's presence. Unknown to
DHS, the mother had relapsed in late July; L.L. was also
reportedly using illegal substances. L.L. was living with the
mother and the children at the time. The mother and L.L.
refused to comply with DHS investigations into the
domestic-abuse and substance-abuse allegations. On October 1,
both children were removed from the mother's custody.
Both children tested positive for methamphetamine and the
older child tested positive for marijuana. The children were
placed in foster care. The court adjudicated the children as
CINA on November 21.
December, the court ordered the mother to obtain
substance-abuse treatment, mental-health treatment,
medication management, and domestic-violence services. The
older child was placed with the paternal grandmother; the
younger child continued in foster care. In February 2019, the
court ordered the mother to set up therapy and child-parent
psychotherapy for the older child. The mother ...