IN THE INTEREST OF M.R., Minor Child, B.T. JR., Father, Appellant.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Mary L. Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.
A father appeals an order terminating his parental rights.
Joseph W. Kertels, Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Patrick Jennings, County Attorney, and Diane M. Murphy, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Amanda Van Wyhe of Vriezelaar, Tigges, Edington, Bottaro, Boden & Ross, L.L.P., Sioux City, for mother.
Angela Kayl, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.
An incarcerated father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his seven-year-old daughter. The father raises three issues on appeal: (1) the Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family, (2) the State failed to prove statutory grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence, and (3) the juvenile court erred in denying his request for additional time for reunification. Finding no merit in his three claims, we affirm the termination of parental rights.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
M.R. most recently came to the attention of the DHS in 2011 due to her mother's positive drug test. The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition and application for temporary removal in March 2012. The DHS placed M.R. with the mother's cousins on March 22, 2012. The juvenile court adjudicated M.R. as a CINA in April 2012. At the time of the hearing, M.R.'s father, Bobby, was incarcerated for possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine but advised the DHS he would participate in whatever services were recommended. Bobby was released from prison in June 2012 and appeared at a July 2012 dispositional hearing.
But by February 2013, Bobby was again arrested and faced the possibility of additional prison time. On March 1, 2013, the court held a permanency hearing; Bobby was not present because he was incarcerated, but was represented by counsel. Bobby's counsel requested a home study be completed for M.R.'s paternal grandmother; the court granted his request. Bobby's counsel renewed the request for a home study for the paternal grandmother on June 5, 2013, and the court again ordered the home study be completed.
On June 20, 2013, the State filed a petition to terminate parental rights. The juvenile court held a termination hearing on July 1, 2013. At that hearing, the State presented paper exhibits and the parties stipulated that if called to testify DHS case worker Tami Divis would say M.R. was integrated into a pre-adoptive home and that termination was in her best interest.
Bobby attended the hearing, but offered no evidence. His counsel reiterated the home study for the paternal grandmother, twice previously ordered by the court, had not yet been completed. Counsel continued: "The father's requesting in the event his rights are terminated that his mother be considered for placement." His counsel also informed the court that Bobby was recently sentenced for "possession of controlled substances and probation violation charges." Counsel estimated Bobby would be "out within the next six to nine months assuming everything goes the way it should." ...