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In re R.W.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF R.W., Minor Child, A.W., Mother, Appellant, J.S., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary P. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

A mother and father separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights to their child.

Timothy K. Wink of Schweitzer & Wink, Columbus Junction, for appellant mother.

Sara Strain Linder of Tindal Law Office, P.L.C., Washington, for appellant father.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Alan Ostergren, County Attorney, and Kevin McKeever, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Stephen W. Newport of Newport and Newport, P.L.C., Davenport, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

DOYLE, J.

A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their eleven-month-old child, R.W. We affirm on both appeals.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

This family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in July 2012, [1] following reports that the mother had left R.W. (then one month old) at the home of a family friend, Tonya Leibbrand, because she could not care for the child. The mother tried to take R.W. back, only to return the child to Tonya's within an hour. The mother was then hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. She has a history of mental health issues, including suicidal depression.

The court entered an ex parte removal order in August 2012. The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance in October 2012. There have been no trial returns to the home.

DHS initiated reunification services. Initially, the mother stated she only wanted photographs of the child. The mother participated in only thirteen of fifty-five visits offered throughout these proceedings. She stated 9:00 a.m. was too early to wake up to call to arrange visits. She changed residences "at least six" times throughout these proceedings and "generally refused" to provide information to DHS regarding where she was living. "At one point, she completely dropped out of her child's life." She was unemployed until approximately three weeks prior to the termination hearing.

The father, a registered sex offender, was incarcerated throughout the entire case[2] and has no ...


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