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In re Z.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

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

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M. Jacobs, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Jeremy B.A. Feitelson of Nelsen & Feitelson Law Group, P.L.C., West Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Tod J. Beavers of Beavers Law Office, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Nicole Garbis-Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children Z.B. and P.S.

          ConGarry D. Williams of State Public Defender's Office, guardian ad litem for minor child C.C.

          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.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         C.C., born April 2001; Z.B., born August 2004; and P.S., born August 2012, came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2015, upon numerous allegations the mother was not properly supervising the children and the children were not receiving adequate care.[1]Specifically, the DHS was concerned the children were being left home alone and were not receiving medical care when needed. In February, the mother was arrested for shoplifting; P.S. was with her when she was arrested, and the other children were home alone. In May, while the mother was at work and the children were home alone, P.S. bit into a detergent pod and became ill; the mother did not seek medical attention for P.S. when she was informed of the incident. On June 9, 2015, a child protective assessment was completed and determined the concerns about denial of critical care and failure to provide proper supervision were founded.

         Throughout June and July 2015, the DHS attempted to engage the mother in services, but the mother repeatedly missed meetings and appointments and failed to return phone calls. On July 17, the State filed a petition to adjudicate the children as children in need of assistance (CINA). The DHS offered services to the mother, including therapy, parenting classes, and daycare assistance, but the mother failed to attend classes or therapy and continued to leave the children home alone under the care of the oldest child. Due to ongoing concerns about the mother's supervision and care of the children, the children were adjudicated children in need of assistance, removed from the mother's care, and placed in foster care in September. At some point, the mother moved to Chicago without providing notification to the juvenile court or the DHS and did not appear at the CINA adjudication hearing.[2] The mother remained in Chicago through early 2016, even though the children had been placed with a family friend in Iowa in October 2015, and did not have regular visits with the children.

         At the beginning of the CINA case, the mother was in a relationship with P.S.'s father, who was in jail on drug charges. The mother returned to Iowa in early 2016 and began having supervised visits with her children. She denied that she remained in a relationship with P.S.'s father. However, she later confirmed that she remained in a relationship with P.S.'s father, who had been released from prison, despite concerns from the DHS about his criminal and substance-abuse history and that he was not cooperating with any services offered by the DHS. On June 21, 2016, a house where P.S.'s father, a convicted felon, was residing was raided by law enforcement and large quantities of crack cocaine and marijuana, a large sum of money, a digital scale, packaging materials, and a firearm were recovered. The mother initially denied living in the home with P.S.'s father, but she later admitted to residing in the home. She also denied being in the home at the time of the raid, though she later admitted to being there and knowing that P.S.'s father sold drugs out of the home. She did not find his source of income to be troubling. The mother also continued to resist services offered by the DHS.

         At the permanency hearing on September 13, the mother claimed she had ended her relationship with P.S.'s father, even though phone logs revealed she had spoken to him several times while he was in jail, video revealed she had taken the children to visit him over Labor Day weekend, and she was pregnant with his child.[3]

         Throughout the entirety of the CINA proceedings, C.C.'s father was not active in any way in C.C.'s life and only spoke with the child one time on the phone.

         On September 29, after more than one year of offered services, the State filed a petition to terminate the mother's parental rights to Z.B., C.C., and P.S., and C.C.'s father's parental rights. On February 28, 2017, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights to all three children under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2016) and C.C.'s ...


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