In re A.M.-G., 22-1429

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSCHUMACHER, JUDGE
PartiesIN THE INTEREST OF A.M.-G. and A.M., Minor Children, P.M., Mother, Appellant.
Docket Number22-1429
Decision Date17 November 2022

IN THE INTEREST OF A.M.-G. and A.M., Minor Children, P.M., Mother, Appellant.

No. 22-1429

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 17, 2022

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F. Staudt, Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

Joseph G. Martin, Cedar Falls, for appellant mother.

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

Kimberly S. Lange of the Public Defender's Office, Waterloo, attorney and guardian ad litem.

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



A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. She claims termination is not in the best interests of the children and asks for a six-month extension. We find termination is in the children's best interests. Additionally, a six-month extension in not warranted on the facts in this record. We affirm.

I. Background Facts &Proceedings

The instant proceedings began in August 2020 after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) became aware of reports of the mother's failure to safely supervise her children, as well as the mother's drug use.[1] A.M.-G., age three-and-a-half, and A.M., age two-and-a-half, were removed from their mother's custody and placed with their maternal grandmother, where they have remained for the duration of the case.

The mother was instructed to complete substance-abuse treatment, comply with drug testing, complete a mental-health evaluation and fulfill any recommended treatment, participate in Family Centered Services (FCS) and the SafeCare curriculum, and consistently attend visits with the children. Little progress was made on any of these goals. The mother completed a substance-abuse evaluation in July 2021, which diagnosed her with cocaine use disorder-severe, cannabis use disorder-severe, and opiate use disorder-severe, in sustained remission. However, the mother did not complete any substance-abuse treatment. Nor did she engage in mental-health treatment, despite self-disclosing to DHHS that she suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Visitation was also problematic


for the mother. Providers reported that the mother easily grew frustrated with the children, failed to discipline them, failed to properly supervise them, and left numerous hazards around the house, including loose pills and scissors within the children's reach. The mother completed only ten drug tests over eighteen months, one of which was positive for cocaine and several of which were indicative of nonhuman urine, resulting in presumptive positive results.

The State petitioned to terminate the mother's parental rights in December 2021. Following a hearing, the court granted the mother a six-month extension, noting the mother's spirited promises to improve her situation. Still the mother struggled to make progress. Despite efforts to make visits more available, the mother only participated in about thirteen of twenty-six visits since February. Similarly, she only participated in five of thirteen FCS meetings and three of six SafeCare classes. She tested positive for cocaine on May 28, 2022, the day after her most recent child's birth, and admitted to drug use during the pregnancy.[2]Hospital staff indicated she was not compliant with the mental-health medication she purported to be taking at the time.

The mother blames much of her continued struggles with sobriety and visits on health problems she encountered since the February hearing, some of which related to her pregnancy. While DHHS did not doubt the existence of some medical issues, the mother never signed medical releases so DHHS could verify the restrictions she claimed were in place. Her visits were held virtually in April and May to accommodate the mother being placed on bedrest. Despite those


accommodations, the mother still attended only five of fourteen offered visits during those months. She completed a new substance-abuse evaluation on June 6, which recommended inpatient...

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