IN THE INTEREST OF I.M.H., Minor child, B.E.R., Mother, Petitioner-Appellee, J.E.J.H., Father, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Jennifer
S. Bailey, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
Jeffrey L. Powell of The Law Office of Jeffrey L. Powell,
P.L.C., Washington, for appellant father.
R. Dial of Law Office of Curtis Dial, Keokuk, for appellee
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
father appeals from the termination of his parental rights.
Upon our de novo review, see In re
M.M.S., 502 N.W.2d 4, 5 (Iowa 1993),
we find clear and convincing evidence supports termination
under Iowa Code section 600A.8(3) (2016), and we conclude
severing the child's relationship with her biological
father serves the child's best interests. We therefore
Background Facts and Proceedings.
mother and the father were never married and were in a
relationship from 2005 to 2007. A child, I.H., was born to
the couple in 2007. The parents broke up a few months after
the child was born. The child remained with the mother, and
the father would assist with child care while the mother
worked second shift at a hospital. In May 2008, visitations
between the father and the child were denied by the mother at
the direction of the Iowa Department of Human Services due to
an ongoing investigation, which ended with an unfounded child
abuse report. On three or four occasions in 2008, the father
visited the child at her babysitter's home. These visits
ceased when the mother found out and changed babysitters. The
father has had no meaningful contact with the child since
2008, the father ceased making requests for visits, but sent
an occasional text to the mother requesting she tell the
child "Happy Birthday" or "Merry
Christmas." The text messages stopped in 2010. In 2012,
the mother filed a termination-of-parental-rights action. The
petition was denied by the juvenile court in 2013, and this
court affirmed the denial. See In re I.M.H., No.
13-0324, 2014 WL 1228376, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 26,
2014). Since that action, the father has made no attempts at
contacting the child or the mother.
mother filed the present action for termination of parental
rights in March 2016. After a hearing, the juvenile court
granted the mother's petition. The court found clear and
convincing evidence established that the father had abandoned
the child pursuant to Iowa Code sections 600A.8(3)(b) and
.8(4). Further, the court found termination of the
father's parental rights was in the best interests of the
father appeals. He contends the juvenile court erred in
determining that there was sufficient evidence to establish
he abandoned the child in accordance with section
600A.8(3)(b). While this court is not bound by the
district court's factual findings when reviewing the
record de novo, we give weight to them, especially when
considering credibility of witnesses. See In re
R.K.B., 572 N.W.2d 600, 601 (Iowa 1998).