IN THE INTEREST OF J.B., B.B., B.B., AND A.C., Minor Children, K.M., Mother, Appellant, B.B., Father of J.B., B.B., AND B.B, Appellant.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl E. Traum, District Associate Judge.
A mother and father separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights.
Martha L. Cox, Bettendorf, for appellant mother.
Nathan W. Tucker of Tucker Law Firm, Davenport, for appellant father.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Katherine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Michael J. Walton, County Attorney, and Julie Walton, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.
Randall L. McNaughton, Davenport, for appellee father. Jack E. Dusthimer, Davenport, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.
A mother and father separately appeal from the order terminating their parental rights. Upon our de novo review, see In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010), we affirm on both appeals.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
K.M. is the mother of four children, ranging in age from three- to nine-years-old at the time of the termination-of-parental-rights hearing. B.B. is the father of the three youngest children. The father has a criminal history, including a charge for drug possession, third offense, as recent as 2011. The mother has a history of involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (Department) concerning her care of the children. In 2010, the Department determined the mother was responsible for causing injury to the oldest child after the mother hit the child and the child suffered a bloody nose and a swollen lip. The mother and father have had an on-again, off-again relationship.
In May 2011, the children again came to the attention of the Department due to reports that the children, including the youngest child, then two years of age, were frequently observed unsupervised outside in the mother's apartment complex. The oldest child, then eight, was not enrolled in school. The
Department also learned of a recent incident of domestic violence between the mother and father, wherein the mother was severely beaten by the father while the children were present at the home. Following a 911 call, the mother was taken to the hospital by ambulance for treatment, and a warrant was issued for the father's arrest. Thereafter, the mother denied that any incident occurred, though five tenants reported hearing the fight and verified the children were present. The mother refused to obtain an order of protection.
Despite the Department's involvement in the parents' and children's lives, the Department continued to receive numerous accounts of the children unsupervised outside for hours at a time. The children were observed by a pond "in danger of drowning." They were also observed running in the street. Additionally, the Department learned three of the four children have significant special needs; only one of the children was on-target developmentally and thriving at school. The youngest child has clubfoot, and he was also significantly delayed in his overall meeting of milestones. Two of the children have asthma and significant breathing issues. The children exhibited significant behavioral concerns, and the oldest child had essentially taken on the role of the caretaker of the younger children. Due to continuing safety concerns, as well as the mother not addressing the children's special needs, the children were placed ...