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In re O.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 22, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF O.H. and V.H., Minor Children, S.H., Mother, Appellant, B.H., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and a father separately challenge a juvenile court order terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Raya D. Dimitrova of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Bonnie J. Heggen, Ankeny, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and David M. Van Compernolle, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Nicole Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         These 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.[1]

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         O.H., 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.[2] 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.

         Despite 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.

         The 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.

         Braden 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 ...


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