In re R.S., 22-1427

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtBOWER, CHIEF JUDGE
PartiesIN THE INTEREST OF R.S. and J.S., Minor Children, J.S., Mother, Appellant.
Docket Number22-1427
Decision Date17 November 2022

IN THE INTEREST OF R.S. and J.S., Minor Children, J.S., Mother, Appellant.

No. 22-1427

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 17, 2022


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Russell G. Keast, District Associate Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

David R. Fiester of the Law Office of David R. Fiester, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

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

Deborah M. Skelton, Walford, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

1

BOWER, CHIEF JUDGE

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.[1] On our de novo review, see In re J.H., 952 N.W.2d 157, 166 (Iowa 2020), we find a ground for termination has been established and termination is in the children's best interests. We affirm.

The department of health and human services (DHHS) began services with the family in July 2020, following allegations of substance abuse by the parents. J.S., born in 2019, was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) in the summer of 2020; R.S., born in late 2020, was adjudicated a CINA in March 2021. The children remained in the parental home until May 2021, when an unannounced home visit by DHHS found the home in a hazardous condition and aroused suspicions the parents continued their drug use. The children tested positive for methamphetamine, after which both parents admitted ongoing substance abuse.

In August, the mother entered a residential drug-treatment program, and in September, the court allowed the children a trial home placement with the mother.[2]Although the mother successfully completed residential treatment, she did not participate in recommended aftercare. At the end of November, the mother tested positive for marijuana, and the children were removed from her care in early December. She tested positive for methamphetamine in January, February, March, and May 2022.

2

At the June termination trial, the mother admitted she had used methamphetamine two weeks earlier. She was living with the father, who testified he had used methamphetamine within the past week. The mother was "waiting for a bed" at a different inpatient treatment program where the children could join her and planned to transition to living in a new city with a fresh start.

The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2022).[3] She appeals.

In contesting the ground for termination, the mother concedes the statutory elements of age, CINA adjudication, and length of removal have been established. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(h)(1)-(3). She asserts the final element-the children could not be returned to her custody-was not established by clear and convincing evidence.[4]

3

The mother admitted using methamphetamine approximately two weeks before the termination trial and testified to being around active users while wearing a drug patch. The "active users" around her includes the father-who admitted recent use and with whom the mother still resided. Both parents testified they hoped to enter inpatient treatment in the coming weeks. The mother claims on appeal to be "prepared for the children to return to her care immediately," but she also requested an extension to complete substance abuse treatment and establish a stable home.

We agree with the juvenile court's analysis of the final element and adopt its findings.

The concerns that initiated [DHHS] involvement with this family in
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