In re B.T., 22-0445

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtCHICCHELLY, JUDGE
PartiesIN THE INTEREST OF B.T., Minor Child, M.B., Mother, Appellant.
Docket Number22-0445
Decision Date27 April 2022

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

No. 22-0445

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 27, 2022


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 one child.

Gina L. Kramer of Kramer Law Office, PLLC, Dubuque, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

Taryn R. McCarthy of Clemens Walters Conlon Runde & Hiatt, Dubuque, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by May, P.J., and Greer and Chicchelly, JJ.

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CHICCHELLY, JUDGE

This appeal involves the termination of a mother's parental rights to her child, B.T. The mother, M.B., argues an extension should have been granted and termination would be detrimental and not in the child's best interests. Upon our de novo review, we affirm termination of her parental rights to this child.

I. Backgrounds Facts and Proceedings.

The child in question is less than two years of age and tested positive for methamphetamine at her birth in September 2020. The mother admitted to using methamphetamine throughout her pregnancy and even the day prior to giving birth. She also acknowledged more frequently using marijuana and taking illicit Adderall during her pregnancy. After B.T.'s birth, M.B. showed some initial signs of progress. She engaged with safety planning and voluntary services while B.T. was briefly placed with her paternal grandmother. M.B. began outpatient substance abuse treatment in November 2020, and she was successfully discharged in mid-February 2021. She provided a clean drug test in early March 2021 but subsequently began missing drug testing. She provided various reasons for missing testing, including lack of transportation, being out of town, being sick, or quarantining due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

A new child protective concern was reported to DHS in early May 2021. After discussing the allegations, M.B. agreed to a safety plan placing the child with her paternal grandmother until a clean drug test could be achieved. She provided a urine sample that came back clean in an instant test. M.B. also did a hair stat that day and had a sweat patch applied. The hair stat came back positive for methamphetamine, and M.B. removed the sweat patch before it could be tested.

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M.B. continued to miss drug testing from May through October 2021. She admitted methamphetamine use in July 2021 and provided a positive drug test in November 2021. She started outpatient substance-abuse treatment again in the fall of 2021, but she quit treatment after November 23 until about two weeks prior to the termination hearing. At a meeting with DHS in December 2021, M.B. acknowledged using methamphetamine within the last two weeks. She expressed intent to begin in-patient treatment at the end of 2021, rescheduled for January 2022, and ultimately has not followed through.

M.B. takes medication for her mental health, but there are concerns about its effectiveness and interaction with her drug use. She has been employed, attending community college, and able to support herself. She has also maintained stable housing, and no concerns have been noted about her home. Since B.T.'s removal in May 2021, M.B. has not progressed beyond fully supervised visits. M.B. reportedly does well with B.T. during the visits and has a bond with her.

M.B. has a history of child abuse assessments related to substance use and failure to provide proper supervision. She is now in her mid-thirties and has struggled with substance abuse since she was a teenager. M.B. has four other children, none of whom are in her care. Her parental rights were terminated to two of the children for substance-abuse issues in 2006 and 2016. The remaining two children are living with relatives. She has an extensive criminal history that includes substance-related charges, as well as theft and assault. She has been in prison twice and was reportedly scheduled to complete probation in February 2022. However, at the time of the termination hearing in February 2022, M.B. had

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an active warrant out for her arrest on a probation revocation and did not appear personally for the hearing.

After the hearing, the juvenile court terminated M.B.'s parental rights with respect to B.T. She has timely appealed. The parental rights of B.T.'s father were also terminated, but he has not...

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