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In re M.O.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF M.O., Minor Child, M.O., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L. Block, Associate Juvenile Judge.

A father appeals from the order terminating his parental rights.

Christopher M. Nydle of Nydle & Forcier, P.L.L.C., Waterloo, for appellant-father.

Kelly Smith, Waterloo, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas J. Ferguson, County Attorney, and Kathleen Hahn, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Michael Bandy, Waterloo, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

DANILSON, J.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his son, M.O.[1]M.O. was born drug affected. M.O.'s father has not actively participated in services and has only shown recent interest in the child. The father's interest has been too little and too late. Moreover, the father is not able to meet the demands of M.O.'s specialized needs. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

M.O. was born in July 2012. During the pregnancy his mother was addicted to prescription medication, which resulted in his exposure in utero. He was born premature at thirty-one weeks and was drug affected by opiates. Shortly after birth, he was placed on a morphine drip because he was suffering from opiate withdrawals. M.O. has numerous health issues, including retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding disease, ongoing respiratory issues, and immune deficiency. Because of these health issues, he requires special care and attention. Namely, M.O.'s nasal passageway must be suctioned out between six and twenty times per day in order to help him breathe.

Upon his discharge from the hospital in August 2012, M.O. was removed from his parents' custody and placed in foster care. The parents had not visited regularly while M.O. was in the hospital and doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics expressed concern about the lack of bonding between M.O. and his parents. The doctors also expressed concerned about the parents' ability to adequately care for their son.

On October 11, 2012, M.O. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance. Neither parent was present for the hearing. The court noted that neither parent had suitable housing or employment, nor had participated in regular visitation with M.O.

On October 19, 2012, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) learned the parents had moved to Missouri. Four days later an arrest warrant was issued for the mother for probation violation. She was arrested in Missouri on or about November 6 and was returned to county jail in Iowa on November 15. At that time the mother reported to DHS that the father was now employed in Missouri and intended to stay there. During the parents' absence, M.O. had been re-admitted to the hospital and had undergone several procedures. DHS had to obtain a court order so doctors could treat M.O. as the parents failed to answer their phones and did not notify anyone they had left the area. The DHS case manager ...


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