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In the Interest of C.M.

December 12, 2012

IN THE INTEREST OF C.M. AND K.M., MINOR CHILDREN, J.S., FATHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Constance Cohen, Associate Juvenile Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mullins, J.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights, contending termination is not in the children's best interest. The father argues the parent-child bond and the children's placement with the paternal grandparents prevent termination. We affirm.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

The parental rights of two children, C.M. (born 2009) and K.M. (born 2008), are at issue in the present appeal. At all times throughout these proceedings, the father was incarcerated for the delivery of methamphetamine. Prior to incarceration, the father was not involved in either C.M. or K.M.'s life.

The father's extensive and continued use of methamphetamine and marijuana began at approximately the age of eighteen. On or about November 18, 2010, the father, then twenty-three years old, was arrested for delivering methamphetamine. He was sentenced to a suspended term of ten years in prison and placed on probation. He subsequently tested positive for use of a controlled substance in violation of the terms of his probation. As a result, his probation was revoked and he began to serve his ten-year prison sentence. Although the father is optimistic about being released from prison in 2013, the Iowa Department of Corrections offender information indicates he is not set to be discharged until June 2015.

This case first came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) on July 29, 2011. At that time, the police found the mother caring for the children under the influence of methamphetamine and in possession of drug paraphernalia. She later admitted she cared for the children while high on methamphetamine. Consequently, the court placed custody of the children with DHS for purposes of family foster care or relative placement. The father was incarcerated at the time of removal.

On September 8, 2011, the juvenile court held an uncontested adjudication hearing, and adjudicated the children in need of assistance. The court held review hearings on February 9 and May 8, 2012. Prior to the May 8, 2012 hearing, DHS facilitated the children's visitation with the father at the Newton Correctional Facility for approximately one and a half hours to one hour and forty-five minutes at a time.

On July 3, 2012, the State filed a petition to terminate parental rights. On July 27, 2012, the juvenile court held a permanency hearing during which the father indicated he would contest the termination of his parental rights.

DHS transferred custody of the children to the parternal grandparents on August 17, 2012. One week later, on August 24, 2012, the court held contested termination of parental rights proceedings. The juvenile court found

Clearly [the father] suffers from [a] severe and chronic substance abuse problem as evidenced by prior acts and is a danger to himself and others. Given his unknown prognosis, there is no reason to believe that he would be available to safely care for [K.M.] or [C.M.] within a reasonable period of time, given their ages and need for permanency. When in the community, prior to his incarceration in 2010, he failed to provide for [his children] or engage in their lives in any meaningful way. Now, because of his own choices, he is unavailable to his children and is unable to demonstrate an ability to resist the temptations of relapse in the community.

The juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), (e), (f), (h), and ...


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