IN THE INTEREST OF I.F., J.K., L.K., and T.K., Minor Children, J.F., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Philip J.
Tabor, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the juvenile court's order terminating
parental rights to her four children, I.F., J.K., L.K., and
J. Parker of Parker Law Office, Clinton, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathrine S. Miller-Todd,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
J. Nelson, Dubuque, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.
Tabor, J., takes no part.
mother appeals from the juvenile court's order
terminating her parental rights under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f) and (h) (2016). She argues the State failed to
satisfy the statutory grounds for termination, reasonable
efforts were not made to reunite the children with the
mother, and termination is not in the best interests of the
children. Because the mother refuses to acknowledge the abuse
that led to the children's issues, the home is unsafe for
the children's return, and the children are improving
under alternative care, we affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
L.K., and T.K. are siblings from the mother's previous
marriage, which dissolved in 2008. J.K was born in 2006, L.K.
in 2005, and T.K. in 2004. In 2009, the mother married
Michael, the children's current stepfather. Michael is
also I.F.'s legal father. I.F. was born in 2013. Michael
has four children from another relationship who have lived in
the household at various times.
service departments for Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois have been
involved with this family for quite some time. The first
instance of involvement with social services arose in 2003
when Michael was involved with the Illinois Department of
Children and Family Services (DCFS) for domestic violence
issues between him and his then-wife. DCFS placed
Michael's children in foster care for approximately six
months. In 2004, Michael had another child, and DCFS issued a
risk-of-harm notice for the child based on the family's
history with services. In 2005, the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) and the Illinois DCFS raised concerns about
domestic violence between Michael and his former wife. Both
parties denied the allegations. In 2008, Michael divorced his
wife, and in 2009, he married the mother.
September 2010, the parties moved to Indiana. The Indiana
Department of Child Services (DCS) issued a founded abuse
report against the mother and Michael for improper
supervision. Another founded abuse report was issued a month
later against the mother and Michael for improper
supervision. The reports indicated the children were observed
numerous times at night, unsupervised, playing on a road. DCS
removed the children for lack of supervision, but they were
eventually returned. In 2011, Michael filed for divorce from
the mother, but he later dismissed the action. The family
moved back to Illinois.
after the move, Illinois DCFS issued a report of abuse for
Michael's child, S.F.,  in October 2012. In January 2013,
I.F. was born and shortly thereafter, the family moved to
Iowa. In September 2013, DHS issued a founded physical abuse
report against the mother and Michael for hitting T.K. and
L.K. with a paddle, which resulted in bruises. Two months
later, DHS issued an unfounded report after allegations that
one of Michael's children punched T.K. in the face. After
an uncontested dispositional hearing, T.K. was placed in the
mother's care, subject to DHS supervision, and the court
adopted the DHS case plan, which required the mother to
remain in Iowa.
February 2014, DHS issued a founded report of sexual abuse
based on two of Michael's children sexually abusing T.K.
and L.K. A week later, DHS issued a not-confirmed report of
physical abuse alleging Michael struck J.K. in the back with
a paddle. Michael's children who were accused of sexual
abuse were moved to their mother's house. In May, the
department issued a founded report against the mother and
Michael for denial of critical care for failing to provide
proper supervision when Michael's ten-year-old child was
left supervising the other children. In August, DHS issued a
founded abuse report against the mother for hitting T.K. with
a belt and clothing hangers. In September, DHS issued a
founded child abuse report against Michael for sexually
abusing T.K. over several years. Michael was required to
leave the family home and not allowed to contact the children
under the case plan.
September, T.K. was voluntarily placed in foster care by the
mother after T.K.'s psychiatric hospitalization due to
T.K.'s physically violent behavior in the family home.
Reports indicate T.K.'s outburst was behavioral rather
than mental, and it was suggested her home environment was
contributing to the problem. T.K. had another outburst at her
foster home, which led the juvenile court to change her
foster placement to another family. Her outbursts, again,
were attributed to ...