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In re M.C.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF M.C. Jr., Minor Child, M.C., Sr., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Stephen C. Clarke, Judge.

A father appeals from the order terminating his parental rights.

Andrew Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant father.

Kelly Smith, Waterloo, for mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas J. Ferguson, County Attorney, and Steven Halbach, Waterloo, for appellee State.

Linnea Nicol of the Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Waterloo, for minor child.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

EISENHAUER, C.J.

A father appeals from the order terminating his parental rights to his child. He contends the State did not prove the statutory grounds for termination, termination was not in the child's best interests, and the court erred in not finding any exceptions to termination. We affirm.

The child, born in 2011, was removed from the parents' care at birth based on the child testing positive for marijuana and methamphetamine. He was returned home for a trial placement in late May 2012 but was removed again in late August after the mother had a positive drug test. He has remained in foster care since.

The father has significant mental health issues, being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, mood disorder, ADHD, and schizoaffective disorder. Between the child's removal in August 2012 and the termination hearing in February 2013, the father missed seven mental health appointments, and at the time of the termination hearing, had no future appointments scheduled. The father has a substance abuse problem and was arrested in September 2012 for operating while intoxicated. He missed twenty-five of twenty-eight scheduled drug tests. He missed two substance abuse treatment appointments in 2013 before the termination hearing and, at the time of the termination hearing, had no future appointments scheduled. The father and mother have a "volatile" relationship. At least one visitation with the child ended early when the father became physically aggressive toward the mother. All visitation since the child's removal in August 2012 has been supervised.

After a hearing in late February 2013, the court issued its order in May, terminating both parents' parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (l) (2013). In considering the child's best interests, the court noted the child was in a "home where he is loved, nurtured, and his safety is not in question." The foster parents want to adopt the child. The court concluded "[a]nything short of adoption would be contrary to the best interests of the child." The court also determined none of the exceptions to termination in section 232.116(3) applied. The father appeals.

We review terminations de novo. In re H.S., 805 N.W.2d 737, 745 (Iowa 2011). We examine both the facts and law, and adjudicate anew those issues properly preserved and presented. In re L.G., 532 N.W.2d 478, 480-81 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995). We accord considerable weight to the findings of the juvenile court, especially concerning the credibility of witnesses, but are not bound by them. Id. at 481.

The father contends the State did not prove the statutory grounds for termination. He specifically argues the evidence did not show the child will not be able to be returned to the custody of the parent within a reasonable period of time. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(l)(3). He argues the court should have deferred permanency because additional time would correct the situation and with the father receiving additional treatment and assistance, the child could be returned ...


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