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In re H.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF H.B. and Z.R., Minor Children, T.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary P. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

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

          Sara Strain Linder of Bray and Klockau, Iowa City, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ellen Ramsey-Kacena, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Christopher Foster of Foster Law Office, Iowa City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         A mother, Tamika, appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to two children, five-year-old H.B. and two-year-old Z.R. She raises four issues. First, she contends the court should have granted a continuance to give her attorney more time to prepare. Second, she alleges the State did not offer clear and convincing evidence supporting the statutory grounds for termination. Third, she contends termination will be detrimental to H.B. and Z.R. because of the strong parent-child bond. And fourth, she asks for more time to reunify. Looking independently at the entire record, we find no basis for reversal.[1]

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         A mid-summer drug raid at Tamika's home in 2018 resulted in the emergency removal of H.B. and Z.R. Authorities found she and her husband, Matthew, were under the influence of methamphetamine while caring for the children.[2] In the wake of this raid, Tamika pleaded guilty to child endangerment and possession of methamphetamine; she received a deferred judgment.

         That summer, Tamika obtained a substance-abuse evaluation that assessed her with amphetamine dependence. She failed to complete the recommended substance-abuse treatment and missed more than twenty of the randomly requested drug tests.

         At the end of August, the court adjudicated H.B. and Z.R. as children in need of assistance (CINA). Showing no progress in addressing her addiction, Tamika never regained custody of the children. During his time in foster care, H.B. demonstrated "fairly significant behavioral and learning issues," according to the report of the guardian ad litem. His younger sister, Z.R., adapted well to foster care, developing a strong attachment to her foster mother. The DHS tried to obtain an area education agency evaluation for Z.R. but could not do so because of Tamika's lack of cooperation.

         Between August and November 2018, Tamika attended only half of the thirty-two visitations offered with her children. Her visitation with H.B. caused him emotional harm. The DHS reported his behavior would decline after each interaction "and even more so when his mother did not show up for the interactions." To DHS, "[i]t became clear that Tamika's sporadic attendance was causing her child distress." H.B. expressed fear of his mother and frequently revisited the trauma of the police raid on their home.

         At the recommendation of his therapist, the juvenile court suspended H.B.'s visitation with his mother. The court made clear Tamika could resume interactions with H.B. if she obtained a psychological evaluation and a substance-abuse evaluation and followed up on their respective recommendations. But she did not do so. Tamika's visitations with Z.R. continued.

         Tamika resisted other services recommended by the DHS and missed five appointments scheduled with the caseworker in November and December 2019. When Tamika finally attended a family team meeting in early January 2019, she was uncooperative and swore at the caseworker. The DHS continued to reach out to Tamika ...


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