In the Interest of L.M., Minor Child


IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA No. 21-0636 Filed July 21, 2021 IN THE INTEREST OF L.M., Minor Child, J.B., Father, Appellant, N.M., Mother, Appellant. ________________________________________________________________ Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge. A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS. Bridget L. Goldbeck of Hughes & Trannel, P.C., Dubuque, for appellant father. Taryn McCarthy of Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant mother. Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State. Kristy Hefel, Dubuque, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child. Considered by Tabor, P.J. and Greer and Schumacher, JJ. 2 SCHUMACHER, Judge. A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights. The parents individually contend termination is not in the best interest of their child and an extension of time for reunification efforts should be granted. The mother also argues insufficient evidence exists in the record to terminate her parental rights on the grounds relied upon by the juvenile court. We conclude termination of the mother and father’s parental rights is in the child’s best interests, a six-month extension is not warranted for either parent, and clear and convincing evidence supports termination of the mother’s parental rights on a statutory ground relied upon by the juvenile court. Accordingly, we affirm. I. Background Facts and Proceedings N.M., mother, and J.B., father, are the parents of L.M., born in 2020. L.M. initially came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) at birth in January 2020 when she was born with an illegal substance in her system. L.M., born at thirty-seven weeks gestation, weighed three pounds, fifteen ounces at birth. A founded child-abuse assessment for the presence of illegal drugs in the child was entered against the mother. Court involvement was not requested as part of the assessment. L.M. again came to the attention of DHS after six-month-old L.M. presented in the emergency room for injuries the mother reported were received as a result of a fifteen-inch fall from a couch onto carpet. Following a medical examination and discovery of retinal hemorrhaging and a subdural hematoma, L.M. was transferred to the University of Iowa, where medical professionals determined the mother’s explanation for the injuries could not account for the severity of the 3 injuries. The University of Iowa reported L.M. had approximately fifty discreet hemorrhages in multiple layers of the left eye, with the most likely cause being trauma. The exam also noted a traumatic subdural hemorrhage with a loss of consciousness in an unspecified duration. L.M. was reported to have both acute and resolving brain bleeds. A child-abuse assessment was founded for physical abuse, denial of critical care, and failure to provide proper supervision, listing the mother as the perpetrator of abuse. Upon discharge from the hospital, L.M. remained in the custody of her mother pursuant to a safety plan that included the mother participating …

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