IN THE INTEREST OF A.M., M.H.-M., and G.M., Minor Children, J.M., Father, Appellant, D.H., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Russell G.
Keast, District Associate Judge.
father and mother appeal separately from the order
terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.
Raymond P. Lough, Vinton, for appellant father.
Annette F. Martin, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen W. Kraemer and
Janet L. Hoffman (until withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys
General, for appellee State.
Deborah M. Skelton, Walford, attorney and guardian ad litem
for minor children.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
MULLINS, Presiding Judge.
father and mother appeal separately from the juvenile
court's order terminating their parental rights to their
three children. They both argue the State failed to prove by
clear and convincing evidence that reasonable efforts had
been made to reunify the family. The father also argues the
juvenile court should have granted his request for additional
time to work toward reunification. Upon our de novo review,
we affirm on both appeals.
Background Facts and Proceedings
mother and father have three children together: A.M., born in
December 2006; M.H.-M., born in March 2012; and G.M., born in
July 2013.The family came to the attention of the
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2015 due
to concerns regarding the mother's substance-abuse and
mental-health issues interfering with her ability to care for
the children safely. The mother and father were not living
together at the time, and the father has never been the
children's primary care provider.
parents have a lengthy history of substance abuse. The mother
has four founded or confirmed child abuse assessments, three
of which involved at least one of her children testing
positive for illegal drugs when the child was in the
mother's care. The mother also has struggled with serious
mental-health issues for which she has received treatment for
at least sixteen years. There is also a history of domestic
violence between the parents. Additionally, the father has
been unable to maintain stable housing.
March 2015, the children were removed from the mother's
care and placed with their maternal grandmother near where
the parents lived. The mother participated in fully
supervised visits with the children twice a week. In May, the
children were adjudicated children in need of assistance
(CINA). Later that month, the maternal grandmother became
unable to care for the children, and they were placed with
their paternal grandmother, who lived over two hours away.
After the children were moved, the mother refused to
participate in visitation with the children because she
believed it would confuse the children to not return home
with her. In late September 2015, the children's paternal
grandmother transported the children to the mother's home
for a supervised visit. At the end of the visit, the mother
refused to let the service provider leave the home with the
children and threatened and called the provider names in
front of the children. The mother eventually called the
police, who convinced the mother to allow the provider and
the children to leave.
November 2015, the mother sent a text message to the
children's paternal grandmother asking her to say goodbye
to the children for the mother and stating she was
"tired of all of this." The grandmother contacted
law enforcement to conduct a wellness check on the mother,
who was found to have overdosed on prescription medication.
The mother admitted she had attempted to commit suicide. Upon
examination at the hospital, the mother tested positive for
cannabinoids, opiates, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. She
was transferred to the mental health unit of the hospital,
diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder-bipolar type, and
placed on anti-psychotic medication. She was later discharged
to a residential care ...