In re K.A., 22-1167

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSCHUMACHER, JUDGE
PartiesIN THE INTEREST OF K.A., C.A., and A.A., Minor Children, S.A., Mother, Appellant.
Docket Number22-1167
Decision Date17 November 2022

IN THE INTEREST OF K.A., C.A., and A.A., Minor Children, S.A., Mother, Appellant.

No. 22-1167

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 17, 2022


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Winnebago County, Karen Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals the removal of children from her custody in child-in-need-of-assistance proceedings.

Jane M. Wright, Forest City, for appellant mother.

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

Carrie Jean Rodriguez, Garner, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

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SCHUMACHER, JUDGE

A mother appeals the removal of children from her custody in child-in-need-of-assistance proceedings. We dismiss the mother's claims regarding removal of the children because the issue is moot.

I. Background Facts &Proceedings

S.A., mother,[1] and E.A., father, are the parents of K.A., born in 2019, C.A., born in 2020, and A.A., born in 2021. On April 19, 2022, the children were removed from the father's custody following an incident of domestic violence, where the mother was the victim. The children remained in the mother's custody. The State filed a petition alleging the children were in need of assistance (CINA).

On May 20, the children were removed from the mother's custody based on concerns about the mother's parenting of the children. There was information the mother locked the children in their bedroom and they had chronic diaper rash. There were also concerns the mother might be planning to flee from Iowa with the children. The children were placed with a paternal aunt.

An adjudication and removal hearing was held on May 27. The mother agreed to CINA adjudication for the children but contested their removal from her custody. The court adjudicated the children under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2022).

At the removal and adjudication hearing, the mother objected to these exhibits: No. 6-a letter from Molly Eichenberger, ARNP; No. 8-the termination

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order for an older child; No. 9-a photograph of a latching device on the children's bedroom door; No. 10-a photograph of moldy sippy cups; and No. 11-a photograph of diaper rash. The mother objected on the grounds of foundation and authentication. During the hearing, the court ruled the exhibits were admissible because they were provided to a child protective worker for the Iowa Department of Human Services[2] as part of her investigation.

The court ruled that the children should be placed in foster care because "[t]he animosity between Mother and [the paternal aunt] is not conducive to reunification." There were also concerns because the paternal aunt continued to have contact with the father and there was a no-contact order prohibiting the father from having contact with the children. On May 28, the children were placed in foster care.

A dispositional hearing was held on June 24. A representative from the department recommended the children be returned to the mother with continued services. The State asserted, "I am hesitantly in agreement with that recommendation, provided that plenty of services are in place for both mother and the children once they are returned-or if they are returned to her home." The guardian ad litem stated it was not in the children's best interests to be returned at that time. The mother asked to have the children returned to her custody.

In the dispositional order, the court expressed concerns about other adults living in the mother's home and their use of illegal drugs. The court found, "The problems for which the Court became involved have not resolved." The court

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determined the children should remain in foster care. The mother appealed following the entry of the dispositional order. On September 16, following hearing, the children were returned to the mother's custody.

II. Standard of Review

The juvenile court's decisions in CINA proceedings are reviewed de novo. In re L.H., 904 N.W.2d 145, 149 (Iowa 2017). We are not bound by the factual findings of the juvenile court, but we give weight to those findings. In re J.S., 846 N.W.2d 36, 40 (Iowa 2014). The court's...

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