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In re S.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF S.B., A.B., Z.B., A.B., and D.B., Minor Children, J.S., Mother, Appellant, M.B., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, Amy Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

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

          Karen K. Emerson Peters of Karen K. Emerson Peters Law Office, Atlantic, for appellant mother. Justin R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, P.L.L.C., Glenwood, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary K. Wickman, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Karen L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         This child-welfare appeal involves five siblings, now ranging in age from seven to twelve years. They were removed from the care of their parents, Josie and Matthew, in August 2015 because the parents were using methamphetamine and the family was homeless. The juvenile court terminated parental rights in February 2017. In challenging the termination ruling, both parents raise the same three claims: (1) the State offered insufficient evidence the children could not be returned to their care, (2) the State failed to make reasonable efforts to facilitate reunification, and (3) termination was not in the best interests of the children.

         After reviewing the record, we reach the same conclusions as the juvenile court.[1] The parents struggle with substance-abuse and mental-health diagnoses that they have not adequately addressed while their children have been out of their care. According to an experienced social worker assigned to the case, the parents have made only minimal progress toward stability over the course of the case. We find clear and convincing evidence supports terminating the rights of both parents; the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) has made reasonable efforts to reunify the family, but the parents have been inconsistent with visitation. The best interests of these school-aged children will be served by moving toward adoption. Accordingly, we affirm the termination order.

         I. Statutory Grounds for Termination

         The juvenile court terminated Matthew's parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (l) (2016). When the juvenile court relies on more than one statutory ground, we may affirm the order on any ground supported by clear and convincing evidence. See D.W., 791 N.W.2d at 707. In his petition on appeal, Matthew challenges only paragraph (f). Matthew's failure to advance an argument concerning subsection (l) waives any claim of error related to that ground. See Hyler v. Garner, 548 N.W.2d 864, 870 (Iowa 1996) ("[O]ur review is confined to those propositions relied upon by the appellant for reversal on appeal."). Therefore, we affirm the termination of his parental rights under paragraph (l).[2]

         The juvenile court terminated Josie's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(f). To terminate under that section, the court must find all of the following have occurred:

(1) The child is four years of age or older.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant ...

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