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In re A.A.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 20, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.A. and B.A., Minor Children, A.A., Father, Appellant, D.K., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

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

Nicholas A. Bailey of Bailey Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Mitchellville, for appellant-father.

Justin T. Rogers of Rogers Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Michelle Chenoweth, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Michelle Saveraid of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Danilson, JJ.

DANILSON, J.

A mother and father separately appeal the termination of parental rights to their children. Both parents claim the State failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the children could not be returned to their care at the time of the termination hearing. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(f)(4) (2013). Because the father had not seen the children for almost eight months prior to the termination hearing, and the mother had several unresolved issues precluding the children's return, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Before the initiation of this termination action, the father appealed from a permanency order placing guardianship of the parties' two minor children with the maternal grandmother and limiting his visitation rights. We adopt our previous recitation of the facts:

The father and mother have two children together—A.A. (born August 1999) and B.A. (born July 2008). The father and mother have an unstable relationship and a significant history of substance abuse. In particular, the father has a longstanding history of abusing crack cocaine. Shortly after A.A.'s birth, the father served over eight years in prison for a robbery he committed after a five-day cocaine binge. The father's substantial criminal history did not end upon his release from prison. After his release, the father was convicted of theft on three separate occasions from 2010 through 2011.
This case first came to the State's attention in July 2011 when the [Iowa] Department of Human Services (DHS) investigated reports that the father and mother were abusing crack cocaine in front of the children. The mother admitted to using crack cocaine and marijuana and provided a positive drug screen. The father delayed providing a drug screen and tested negative for the presence of any drugs. The parents consented to removal. A.A. was placed with the maternal grandmother and B.A. was placed with the paternal aunt.
In August 2011, the juvenile court held an uncontested removal hearing and confirmed removal. The same month, the juvenile court held an uncontested adjudication hearing and adjudicated both children as children in need of assistance (CINA). In October 2011, the juvenile court held a dispositional hearing, confirmed the children as children in need of ...

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