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In re M.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2020

IN THE INTEREST OF M.H., Minor Child, K.H., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

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

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

          Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender Office, Council Bluffs, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.

          BOWER, CHIEF JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights. She claims the evidence does not support the grounds for termination and the court should have granted her additional time to achieve reunification with the child. We find sufficient evidence supports a ground for termination, an extension is not warranted, and termination is in the best interests of the child. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         K.H. is the mother of M.H., who was born in 2018. The child was removed from the mother's care on June 24, 2018, after the mother's paramour caused visible bruising on the infant. The mother called the police and reported her paramour's actions. The child was removed due to concerns the paramour would return to the mother's home.

         On August 8, the mother participated in a substance-abuse and mental-health evaluation. In her evaluation, the mother disclosed marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine use during the prior three years. She was diagnosed with a "mild substance use disorder" relating to marijuana and a screening test revealed a "low probability" of a substance use disorder. She was tested for illegal substances, which came back negative. The mental-health portion of the evaluation indicated a moderate probability of an adjustment disorder. The evaluator recommended outpatient treatment for both substance-abuse and mental-health therapy.

         On August 13, the court adjudicated the child in need of assistance (CINA). At the adjudication hearing, the court ordered the mother to "participate in family safety, risk, and permanency services" (FSRP), submit to random drug screens, and obtain a substance-abuse evaluation if she tested positive for illegal substances. The child was placed with a foster family.

         The mother obtained a no-contact order, which the paramour violated multiple times during the CINA proceedings. The paramour had assaulted the mother in the past. The mother entered into a residential domestic-abuse program at Phoenix House, where she participated in therapy and she progressed to semi-supervised visits

         Following a dispositional hearing in September, the court ordered a psychological evaluation, and the department of human services (DHS) recommended intensive therapy. The court noted the mother was "actively participating in services ...


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