IN THE INTEREST OF F.K. and F.K., Minor Children, F.K., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Karen Kaufman
Salic, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
two minor children.
Elizabeth A. Batey of Vickers Law Office, Greene, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until
withdrawal) and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General,
for appellee State.
Cynthia Schuknecht of Noah, Smith, Schuknecht & Sloter,
P.L.C., Charles City, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Greer, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE
mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her
parental rights to her two minor children, F.K. and F.K. The
juvenile court terminated her parental rights under Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(e), (h), and (k) (2019). The mother argues
the State has not met its burden to show by clear and
convincing evidence that (1) the mother has "not
maintained significant and meaningful contact" with the
children under paragraph (e)(3); (2) the children could not
be returned to her custody at the time of the termination
hearing under paragraph (h)(4); and (3) the mother's
"prognosis indicates that the child will not be able to
be returned to the custody of the parent within a reasonable
period of time" under paragraph (k)(3). She further
argues terminating her parental rights is not in the
children's best interest and the juvenile court erred by
refusing her request for a six-month extension rather than
terminating her parental rights.
Factual History and Background Proceedings
time of the termination hearing, the older child was almost
two and one-half years old and the younger child was almost
one and one-half years old. The mother and the children lived
together with L.H., an unrelated adult man whom the mother
later admitted was her significant other, and with whom the
mother has been involved in domestic violence incidents on
more than one occasion.
mother has a long history of mental-health issues. She is a
person with lower cognitive ability and was temporarily under
the guardianship of her parents as an adult. She has been
diagnosed with bipolar personality disorder, schizophrenia,
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and oppositional
defiant disorder. She had five psychiatric hospitalizations
between spring 2014 and spring 2015 and fled Iowa to avoid
involuntary committal proceedings during that period. The
mother also has a history of attempting or threatening to
attempt to commit suicide. In March 2018, the Iowa Department
of Human Services (DHS) became involved after the mother
attempted suicide by drug overdose while the children were in
her care. The mother limited the services to only Family
Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) and psychiatry services,
and then did not engage in the services offered.
events leading to these proceedings occurred in July 2018. On
July 20, the mother was committed for psychiatric
hospitalization after she threatened to commit suicide by
jumping into a river with one of the children. DHS removed
the children from L.H.'s home where they were living with
their mother and L.H. that same day after DHS staff smelled
marijuana on them. The children were placed with their
current foster parents, where they have remained.
children were adjudicated children in need of assistance
(CINA) in September 2018. The juvenile court ordered the
mother to obtain a substance-abuse evaluation, participate in
FSRP services, the Families Together program, and Crisis
Intervention Services, and show that she provided adequate
financial support and appropriate housing for the children.
At first, the mother did not engage in any services. She did
not participate in FSRP, Families Together, or Crisis
Intervention Services. She missed most of the scheduled
visits with the children, did not get a substance abuse
evaluation performed as requested, and was not receptive to
suggested changes to her parenting.
mother's participation in services improved by the
December 2018 permanency hearing. She began attending
substance-abuse and mental-health treatment and was regularly
taking her psychiatric medications. She still refused to
accept advice on changing her parenting, however, and often
was not attentive or prepared during visits. During one
visit, for example, the mother tried to feed the younger
child a French fry, despite the child being less than a year