In the Interest of S.J. and E.S., Minor Children


IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA No. 21-0558 Filed July 21, 2021 IN THE INTEREST OF S.J. and E.S., Minor Children, T.N., Mother, Appellant. ________________________________________________________________ Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Harrison County, Jennifer Bahr, District Associate Judge. A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED. Abby L. Davison of Office of the State Public Defender, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother. Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Toby J. Gordon, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State. Justin Wyatt of Woods, Wyatt & Tucker PLLC, Glenwood, attorney for S.J. Amanda Heims, Council Bluffs, attorney for E.S. and guardian ad litem for minor children. Considered by Bower, C.J., and Tabor and Ahlers, JJ. 2 BOWER, Chief Judge. A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights, asserting the State has failed to prove grounds for termination exist and did not make reasonable efforts to reunify the family, termination is not in the children’s best interests, and a permissive exception exists to avoid termination.1 We affirm. The juvenile court entered a thorough and detailed thirty-three-page ruling providing an extensive history of this family’s involvement with juvenile court and the department of human services (DHS). In brief, T.N. is the mother of E.S., born in 2013, and S.J., born in 2008. This family was previously involved with DHS and child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings from October 2015 to November 2018. Concerns in that prior case included the mother’s criminal charges, substance abuse, and mental-health issues. The children were returned to the mother’s custody in February 2018 after the mother “demonstrated behaviors reflecting sobriety including ongoing participation in outpatient substance-abuse treatment” and negative drug screens. Unfortunately, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine in June and failed to comply with the terms of a safety plan. The children were removed from her care, and the family continued to receive services via DHS. The mother was able to maintain her sobriety and stability for about three months, the children were returned to her care, and on November 14, 2018, the CINA proceedings were closed. The family again came to the juvenile court’s attention in January 2019 when the mother was stopped for driving while barred; the children were in the 1 S.J.’s father’s motion to reinstate his appeal following dismissal for the untimely filing of his petition on appeal was denied by order of our supreme court. 3 vehicle with her; and the officers found methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. The mother was arrested, and the children were removed by temporary removal order. A child-abuse assessment followed and was founded against the mother for dangerous substances. The children were adjudicated CINA again in February, and a dispositional order in March ordered the children remain out of the mother’s custody. Over the next several months, the mother continued to have legal issues, displayed aggressive behaviors, entered and was discharged unsuccessfully from substance-abuse treatment, and was not taking needed prescription mental-health medication because she was without insurance. A permanency hearing was held in January 2020, and the …

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