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In re G.T.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 23, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF G.T., Minor Child, B.C., Mother, Appellant.

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

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          Taryn R. McCarthy of Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt, L.L.P., 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.

          Kristy L. Hefel of Public Defender's Office, Dubuque, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother and father's parental rights to G.T. under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2019). Only the mother appeals. She argues (1) grounds for termination were not established, (2) the juvenile court erred in denying her additional time, and (3) her bond with G.T. precludes termination. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         G.T. was born in October 2017. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) first took notice of G.T. in August 2018 after police investigated some domestic violence between G.T.'s parents. When police arrived, G.T. displayed concerning behavior. Paramedics were dispatched to the home.

         At the hospital, G.T. tested positive for benzodiazepine and marijuana. The mother confessed that she fed G.T. sugar water and lollipops for the past four days because she could not afford formula. When G.T. was released from the hospital, he was placed in foster care.

         Initially, visitations were scheduled with both parents together. Then the parents ended their relationship, and the mother moved into her own apartment. So DHS held separate visitations with each parent. After DHS inspected her home to ensure she had proper necessities for G.T., the mother progressed to overnight visits. But, shortly thereafter, her roof caved and she was unable to host overnight visits. Indeed, throughout this case, the mother struggled with maintaining stable housing and appropriate furnishings for G.T.

         In March 2019, the mother had a psychological evaluation. During the evaluation, she admitted she kept a romantic relationship secret from DHS, she was evicted for not paying rent, and she used marijuana about twice a month. The evaluation revealed the mother had a second-grade reading level and a third-grade oral-comprehension level. The psychologist opined that "there [are] significant intellectual, academic, and cognitive impairments for [the mother], which will have an impact on her being able to care for a young child."

         Following the evaluation, DHS modified the mother's services. DHS asked her to get a substance-abuse evaluation and comply with its recommendations. An additional provider began helping the mother with ...


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