IN THE INTEREST OF A.B.-S., I.B.-S., and M.B.-S., Minor Children, A.B.-S., Father, Appellant.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lee (South) County, Gary R. Noneman, District Associate Judge.
A.B.-S. appeals the district court ruling terminating his parental rights.
Jeanette E. Dennis of James F. Dennis Law Firm, Keokuk, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Michael Short, County Attorney, and Clinton Boddicker, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Kimberly Auge of Napier, Wolf, Popejoy & Auge, L.L.P., Fort Madison, for mother.
Laura Krehbiel, Donnellson, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
A.B.-S. appeals the district court ruling terminating his parental rights. A.B.-S. argues the long-term interests of the children do not warrant termination. We find A.B.-S. abandoned and deserted the children. As a result, the best interests of the children are served by terminating his parental rights. We affirm.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
A.B.-S. is the biological father of three children ages seven, five, and three. The children were removed from his care after they were found living with him and their biological mother in a hotel room in disturbing conditions. The children were discovered naked, eating soap and sugar packets while the parents were intoxicated from using illegal drugs. The mother was disorientated and non-communicative while A.B.-S. was hallucinating.
The children were initially placed with their paternal great-grandmother, who was unable to care for them. The children were then placed in temporary foster care until a removal hearing was held on December 15, 2011. A.B.-S. was notified of the hearing but did not attend or participate. After the hearing the children were allowed to move to Cedar Rapids with their mother for participation in a mother-child treatment program.
On January 11, 2012, an initial family team meeting was held. A.B.-S did not participate. The mother admitted to having been under the influence of "bath salts", a synthetic drug, for a period of ten days prior to the removal. She admitted she had been using the drugs with A.B.-S. causing both to be delusional. The mother made substantial progress in the mother-child treatment program and eventually returned, with the children, to her mother's home. While there, however, she relapsed and admitted using cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. Two months later she tested positive for methamphetamine. The children also tested positive for exposure to methamphetamine. A second removal hearing was held and the children were again placed in foster care. Attempts were made to contact A.B.-S., however he could not be located. He appeared telephonically for a family team meeting on August 8, 2012. He reported he had completed substance abuse and mental health evaluations and denied any knowledge of previous court proceedings.
During the family team meeting, relatives of the children from Oklahoma appeared indicating they would consider taking the children with the possibility of long-term placement and adoption. The children were subsequently placed with relatives in Oklahoma and have thrived. They consider their Oklahoma family to be their parents and have achieved a level of stability and safety as never before. A review hearing was held on February 7, 2013. ...