IN THE INTEREST OF O.H. and V.H., Minor Children, S.H., Mother, Appellant, B.H., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother and a father separately challenge a juvenile court
order terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH
D. Dimitrova of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Heggen, Ankeny, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and David M. Van Compernolle,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
termination-of-parental-rights appeals involve two children:
seven-year-old O.H. and his one-year-old sister, V.H. The
relationship of their parents, Stephanie and Braden, has been
plagued by domestic violence and substance abuse. In granting
the State's petition to terminate parental rights, the
juvenile court decided those issues continued to endanger the
children. In their separate appeals, Stephanie and Braden
contend the State did not offer clear and convincing evidence
to support the statutory grounds for terminating their
parental rights. Stephanie also argues termination was not in
the children's best interests and asks for six additional
months to achieve reunification. After an independent review
of the record, we conclude clear and convincing evidence
supports the juvenile court's order.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
born in November 2009, and V.H., born in August 2015, are the
biological children of Braden and Stephanie. Stephanie has an
older daughter, L.S., who is not a subject of this appeal.
O.H. and L.S. came to the attention of the Iowa Department of
Human Services (DHS) in June 2015 upon reports Braden and
Stephanie were abusing methamphetamine, marijuana, and
illegal prescription drugs; Braden was selling drugs from the
home; and Braden had assaulted Stephanie in the presence of
the children. The juvenile court adjudicated O.H. and
L.S. as children in need of assistance (CINA) and issued an
order for removal of the children. L.S.-who was placed with
her biological father, Chad-told child abuse investigators
she and O.H. witnessed domestic violence in their home,
including Braden placing Stephanie "in a chokehold"
while Stephanie was pregnant with V.H.
the pending CINA case for her older children, Stephanie did
not inform DHS workers that she was pregnant or had given
birth. The juvenile court ordered removal of the new baby,
V.H., in September 2015 and adjudicated her as a CINA due to
ongoing concerns about domestic violence and substance abuse.
The DHS placed O.H. and V.H. with extended family members;
both families have taken steps to become pre-adoptive homes.
parents did not exhibit progress regarding their
substance-abuse issues during the case. Stephanie reported
struggling with drug abuse since her teens. In September
2015, she tested positive for Oxycodone and Oxymorphone,
which were prescribed to her following complications with her
Caesarean section. But during the course of the case,
Stephanie failed to recognize her reliance on opiates as a
problem. The medical clinic she attended flagged her files
for drug-seeking behavior. As part of her case plan,
Stephanie was called to provide drug screens, which she
frequently missed; she also tampered with the urine samples
or tested positive.
also has a history of substance abuse dating back to high
school. His participation in outpatient treatment in 2015 was
sporadic. In December 2015, Braden was arrested for a
probation violation and remained in jail until March 1, 2016,
when he was released to an in-patient treatment program. He
was unsuccessfully discharged from that program after only
one week when he snuck out of the facility to meet with
Stephanie. A warrant was pending for his ...