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In re B.P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF B.P., C.C., and D.C., Minor Children, J.C., Mother, Appellant, C.P., Father of B.P. and D.C., Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F. Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children.

          John J. Bishop, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          David R. Fiester of Law Office of David R. Fiester, Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kristi A. Traynor, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Jeannine L. Roberts, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         B.P., born April 2003; D.C., born September 2008; and C.C., born September 2004, [1] came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in this matter in June 2015, upon allegations of drug use by the parents and domestic violence occurring in the home.[2] Specifically, the DHS was concerned both parents were using methamphetamine and the father was committing acts of domestic violence against the mother in the presence of the children. On July 2, the DHS removed the children from the home. On July 8, the juvenile court approved the removal and directed the mother and the father to cooperate with services offered by the DHS. Upon stipulation by the parties, the children were adjudicated children in need of assistance under Iowa Code section 232.6(6)(c)(2) and (6)(n) (2015).

         In July, both parents tested positive for methamphetamine; the father admitted use, as did the mother despite initially denying it. The mother also admitted to using methamphetamine twice a week in the months leading up to removal and being unsure of how the use affected her ability to care for the children. The mother did acknowledge that she knew the father was using but claimed he was not using in the presence of the children. Following removal, multiple incidents of domestic violence between the father and the mother were reported to the DHS by third-party witnesses. In August, the mother again ended her relationship with the father and reported the father had thrown a safe in the home, taken her phone away, and screamed and yelled at her.

         The mother agreed to participate in substance-abuse and mental-health treatment, but she did not participate in domestic-violence treatment. In November, the mother moved from fully-supervised to semi-supervised visits but returned to fully-supervised visits in early December after she tested positive for methamphetamine. The mother denied using. By March 2016, the mother again showed progress and returned to semi-supervised visits until May when she was given unsupervised visits. Overnight visits were started in November and extended overnights in December.[3] However, in late December, the mother again tested positive for methamphetamine, and semi-supervised visits were re-instituted. The mother again denied using and blamed the result on a sexual encounter with a methamphetamine user.

         Throughout this matter, the mother has been less willing to engage in services than in her prior interactions with the DHS. She has been less forthcoming about the details of her life and less willing to communicate with the DHS. A permanency specialist assigned to the case said that she had seen less of a drive from the mother to do the things necessary to secure reunification with the children compared to the prior DHS case. When ...


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