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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 23, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., S.C., and M.C., Minor Children, T.W., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Kimberly Ayotte, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to three children. AFFIRMED.

          Raya Dimitrova of Carr Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kayla Stratton of Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to three children, born in 2015, 2016, and 2017.[1] She contends the State failed to prove the children could not be returned to her custody at the time of the termination hearing. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(f)(4), (h)(4) (2019).

         Our de novo review of the record reveals the following facts and proceedings. Early one morning in early 2017, a passerby noticed the mother in a parking lot with her two oldest children. The passerby offered to drive the mother and her children to a friend's house. When the mother could not find the house and could not remember the names of her children, the passerby dropped her off at a convenience store.

         Police were called. The mother tested positive for high levels of alcohol in her system and was arrested and charged with several crimes.

         The department of human services intervened, and the State sought the children's removal from their mother's custody. The juvenile court granted the application. The children were placed with a relative and were subsequently adjudicated in need of assistance. Both children tested positive for cocaine.

         The mother pled guilty to neglect of a dependent person and was placed on "[t]wo years of probation with deferred judgment." Her probation was later extended based on additional criminal conduct.

         Meanwhile, the mother underwent a substance-abuse evaluation and was diagnosed with severe alcohol-use disorder and mild cocaine-use disorder. She began substance-abuse treatment and was successfully discharged from the program several months later, notwithstanding positive tests for alcohol and cocaine. In the fall of 2017, both children were returned to the mother's custody.

         Shortly thereafter, the mother gave birth to her third child. The State petitioned to have the child adjudicated in need of assistance. Meanwhile, the mother again tested positive for cocaine. The State sought and obtained an order removing all three children from ...


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