IN THE INTEREST OF W.A., C.A., B.A., and H.A., Minor children, A.A., Mother, Appellant, N.A., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Mark F.
Schlenker, District Associate Judge.
mother and father appeal separately the termination of their
ON BOTH APPEALS.
M. Bartusek of Stoltze & Stoltze, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
P. Webber of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Pietz of Pietz Law Office, Des Moines, attorney and
guardian ad litem for minor child, W.A.
Kathryn Miller of Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines,
attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children, C.A.,
B.A., and H.A.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Bower,
mother and father appeal separately from the order
terminating their parental rights to their four children, who
at the time of the termination hearing ranged in ages from
thirteen to three years old. Each parent claims the
following: the statutory grounds for termination have not
been met, a six-month extension to continue working toward
reunification is warranted, termination is not in the best
interests of the children, and the court should have placed
the children in a guardianship with the paternal grandmother.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
family has been previously involved with the Iowa Department
of Human Services (DHS) and the juvenile court due to both
parents' abuse of methamphetamine. In April 2012, when
DHS was attempting to assess the safety of the family home,
the father fired a gun at the car of a DHS worker as she was
leaving the family property. The children were then removed
from the parents' home. The father was charged with
several crimes and ultimately pled guilty to intimidation
with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to a term of
imprisonment, which began in late September 2014. The mother
participated in drug-rehabilitation treatment and other
services, and the children were able to return to the family
home. The case was successfully closed in early 2014.
became involved with the family again in April 2015, after
local law enforcement alerted DHS to their belief the mother
was using methamphetamine. The father was incarcerated at
this time and remained incarcerated throughout the case. DHS
attempted to implement a safety plan that would allow the
children to remain in the family home, but the mother refused
to provide a sample for urinalysis (UA). All four children
were removed on April 24, 2015. The youngest child's hair
was tested and was positive for methamphetamine and
termination hearing took place over four dates: June 2, 3,
and 23, and July 1, 2016. At the hearing, the mother admitted
that although she had denied using methamphetamine from the
time the children were removed until April 2016-when she
began outpatient drug-rehabilitation treatment-she had used
the drug "the majority of the month" in April 2015,
"the majority of the month" in February 2016, and
once in April 2016. The mother's most recent positive
drug test occurred on April 29, 2016. The mother was arrested
on two separate occasions in 2016, and the criminal charges
were still pending at the time of the hearing. The mother was
without employment. The electricity to the family home had
only recently been turned back on at the time of the first
couple days of the termination hearing, and it was off again
by the final day; the water to the home had also been turned
off. The mother missed four visits with the children in the
month of June, and she started seeing a new therapist between
the hearing dates.
mother testified that she would like to have the children
returned to her, but she admitted she was not in a position
for that to occur at the time of the ...