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In re S.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF S.R., Minor Child, J.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Eric J. Nelson, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the order terminating her parental rights.

          Daniel J. McGinn of McGinn, Springer & Noethe, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Maura C. Goaley, Council Bluffs, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          BOWER, Chief Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights. She claims the evidence does not support termination, the court should have granted additional time for reunification, and termination is not in the best interests of the child. We find sufficient evidence supports the termination, additional time is unwarranted, and termination is in the best interests of the child. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         J.R. is the mother of S.R., born in 2018.[1] Her parental rights to an older child, J.E., were terminated in July 2018 due to ongoing substance abuse. She has been unsuccessfully discharged from multiple treatment programs. The mother admitted using methamphetamine while pregnant with S.R., though both mother and child tested negative at the time of S.R.'s birth. The child was removed from the mother at birth and placed with the maternal grandmother, who also has custody of the older sibling. On September 13, the court adjudicated S.R. a child in need of assistance (CINA).

         Initially, the mother was the child's primary caretaker during the day under the supervision of family members. She obtained a job and continued to visit the child frequently under family supervision until December. On December 31, the mother had an altercation with the grandmother. After that, the mother's visits were supervised by a Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) service worker instead of family. The visits were all reported to go well.

          Starting in mid-September, the mother began missing drug tests, and those she appeared for came back positive for methamphetamine. She completed outpatient treatment in January 2019, despite positive sweat-patch drug tests in September, October, and December. After outpatient treatment and a January permanency hearing recommending termination of her parental rights, the mother did not complete any requested drug tests until May. In March, the mother began researching different treatment programs, and on May 2, began inpatient treatment in Des Moines. She admitted to using methamphetamine the day before treatment. She was doing well in the program at the time of the termination hearing.

         The termination hearing was on June 21. The court heard testimony from the social worker, the FSRP worker, the mother, and the maternal grandfather. The court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g), (h), and (l) (2019). She appeals.

         II. ...


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