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In the Interest of T.K. and R.K.

January 9, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF T.K. AND R.K., MINOR CHILDREN, C.L., MOTHER, APPELLANT.


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

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

A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to her two children. The juvenile court terminated her parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d) and (h) (2011). The father's rights were also terminated, but he does not appeal. The mother claims there is insufficient evidence in the record to support termination of her parental rights under either of these provisions. She also claims termination of her parental rights is not in the children's best interests. Upon our de novo review, we affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

Cory and Patrick are the parents of two minor children, T.K. (born in 2010) and F.K. (born in 2011). The oldest child was removed from Cory's care a few days after his birth in September 2010 due to unresolved mental health and aggression issues that left her unable to safely parent the child. The parents participated in services, and the child was returned about two weeks later. T.K. was adjudicated to be in need of assistance pursuant to section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2009).

The parents subsequently separated, and their relationship became acrimonious. Service providers reported that Cory seemed overwhelmed and was unable to balance working and taking care of the child. On January 6, 2011, the child was placed in Patrick's care. The disposition order continued the child in the care of Patrick, citing Cory's homelessness, improper supervision of the child, and her mental health problems. A review order from June 2011 noted the mother had been rude and verbally abusive to professionals and Patrick. It additionally found she was uncooperative and resistant to therapy.

In June 2011, Patrick permitted Cory to move in with him and T.K. The parents resided together for two weeks during a time when both were aware that Cory was not permitted unsupervised contact. During this period, Cory cared for T.K. when Patrick was at work or otherwise absent from the home. As a result, on June 30, 2011, T.K. was removed from Patrick's care. The child was placed in foster care. The parents were found to be in contempt for violating a court order restricting contact between Cory and T.K. In a permanency order dated August 3, 2011, the juvenile court gave Patrick six months to work on reunification pursuant to section 232.104(2)(b) (2011). The court determined it did not make sense to bifurcate matters, and so Cory was also given an additional six months. T.K. was returned to Patrick's care on October 6, 2011.

F.K. was born to Cory and Patrick in October 2011. F.K. was removed from Cory's care a few days after his birth and placed in foster care. The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance under sections 232.2(6)(b), (c)(2), and (n). On January 6, 2012, T.K. was removed from Patrick's care and placed in the same foster home with F.K. The court noted Cory was more stable than in the past, but she needed to focus on her children and not her romantic relationships. The juvenile court granted the mother an additional three months to work on reunification. She, however, did not make further progress in her ability to safely care for the children.

The State filed a petition seeking to terminate the parents' rights on August 10, 2012. As noted above, the juvenile court terminated Patrick's and Cory's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(d) and (h). The court found, "she is simply unable to meet their needs without further adjudicatory harm coming to them." During visitation there continued to be problems with her supervision of the children based on her inability to focus on more than one child at a time. The court concluded termination of Cory's parental rights was in the children's best interests. Cory appeals.

II. Standard of Review

The scope of review in termination cases is de novo. In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). Clear and convincing evidence is needed to establish the grounds for termination. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006). Where there is clear and convincing evidence there is no serious or substantial doubt about the correctness of the conclusion drawn from the evidence. In re D.D., 653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). "The paramount concern in termination proceedings is the best interest of the child." In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d 458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011).

III. Sufficiency of the Evidence

Cory contends there is insufficient evidence to support termination of her parental rights under either section 232.116(1)(d) or (h). "When the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we need only find grounds to terminate under one of the sections cited by the juvenile court to affirm." In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999). In our review we rely on section ...


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