IN THE INTEREST OF A.M., Minor Child, A.M., Father, Appellant.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Virginia Cobb, District Associate Judge.
A father appeals the order terminating his parental rights.
Thomas P. Graves of Graves Law Firm, P.C., Clive, for appellant father.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Wayne M. Reisetter, County Attorney, and Sean P. Wieser, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.
Kayla Stratton of the Des Moines Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Danilson, JJ.
A father appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights to two-year-old A.M. We affirm.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
This family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in November 2011, following a domestic altercation between the child's mother and her boyfriend (not the father). The mother consented to the child's removal from her home. The child was adjudicated in need of assistance in February 2012.
The father's paternity to the child was determined, and services to eliminate the need for DHS involvement were initiated. The father began visitations with the child and they developed a relationship. The father is currently diagnosed as being mildly mentally retarded, with antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. Unfortunately, caseworkers expressed concerns with regard to the father's instability, "inconsistencies in parenting, " "struggles with understanding age appropriate child development, " and "erratic [and] threatening behavior." In addition, the caseworkers were concerned by the father's "fixation" on the mother, and his comparative inattention to the child. The father's visits with the child were decreased due to "continued reports" of his inability to parent the child safely.
The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in July 2012. The termination hearing was held over three days in January, March, and April 2013. Placement of the child was returned to the mother in April 2013. By that time, the State requested termination of the father's parental rights only and dismissed its petition in regard to termination of the mother's parental rights.
The record before the juvenile court indicated "almost all" of the concerns about the father continued to exist. Specifically, the court was aware of the opinion of the case manager that, "even if [the father] could meet [the child]'s basic physical needs, he does not possess the skills understanding or insight to meet her developmental needs." The court also heard from the DHS worker in charge of supervising visitations between the father and child, who testified that the father got "overwhelmed during visits" and that she had to intervene when the child "acted up" and the father "was not able to deal with it." The court observed another opinion of a service provider that the father was "at high risk for behavior that is consistent with features of denial of critical care and neglect, as well as acting out his anger and frustration physically." All professionals working with the child, including the guardian ad litem, recommended termination of his parental rights.
Following the termination hearing, the court entered its order terminating the father's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code sections ...