IN THE INTEREST OF M.S., S.P., and W.P., JR., Minor Children, J.B., Father of M.S., Appellant, W.P. Sr., Father of S.P. and W.P. Jr., Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, William S.
Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.
fathers appeal the termination of their parental rights to
their respective children. AFFIRMED ON BOTH
P. Goedken of Orsborn, Milani, Mitchell & Goedken,
L.L.P., Ottumwa, for appellant father J.B.
F. Bozwell, Jr. of Bozwell Law Office, Centerville, for
appellant father W.P. Sr. Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General,
and Ana Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee
K. Erhardt of Erhardt & Erhardt, Ottumwa, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.
the father of M.S., born 2011, and W.P. Sr., the father of
S.P., born 2007 and W.P. Jr., born 2005, separately appeal
the termination of their parental rights to their children.
The district court found clear and convincing evidence to
terminate both father's rights, no impediments to
termination existed, and termination was in the
children's best interests. On our de novo review, In re
A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014), we affirm.
parental rights were terminated under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(b) (2016), which allows for termination if there
is clear and convincing evidence that the child has been
abandoned or deserted. J.B. claims he was only on notice of
the juvenile court proceedings eleven months before his
rights were terminated. However, he was aware of M.S.'s
birth and did not see the child until the child was more than
three years old. Since then, J.B. has seen the child on three
occasions. When he was informed of the pending court action,
he was encouraged to participate in visits, yet he made no
effort to travel from his home in Michigan to tend to the
child. On appeal, he simply claims he did not have the
resources to do so.
district court found J.B.'s lack of action critical,
determining he "fail[ed] to engage in any efforts to
maintain a relationship or support [M.S.] throughout the five
years of [the child's] life." The Iowa Department of
Human Services (DHS) worker testified she discussed services
that J.B. could participate in, including substance abuse
treatment. J.B. declined the offer, denying he needed any
such services. Yet, he was not honest with the DHS worker, as
he was admitted to inpatient-substance-abuse treatment during
the pendency of the juvenile court action. He also failed to
participate in visits that would have been provided in
conjunction with the guardian ad litem. His claim on appeal
of a lack of services offered rings hollow when he was not
honest with the DHS worker, did not avail himself of visits
with M.S., and did not request any other specific services.
See In re C.H., 652 N.W.2d 144, 147-48 (Iowa 2002)
(finding reasonable services had been provided where parent
refused treatment offered); see also In re L.M.W.,
518 N.W.2d 804, 807 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994) ("[T]he parents
have a responsibility to demand services prior to the
termination hearing."). We affirm the finding under
section 232.116(1)(b). The district court also found it was
in M.S.'s best interests for J.B.'s parental rights
to be terminated and there were no impediments to
termination. See Iowa Code § 232.116(2), (3).
We agree and affirm the termination of J.B.'s parental
rights to M.S.
Sr.'s parental rights were terminated under Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(b), (e), and (f). He claims the State
failed to show by clear and convincing evidence the children
could not be placed with him "within a reasonable period
of time" under paragraph (f) and termination was not in
the children's best interests.
the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than
one statutory ground, we need only find grounds to terminate
under one of the sections cited by the juvenile court to
affirm." In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa
Ct. App. 1999). W.P. Sr. is currently incarcerated with a
tentative discharge date of 2037. He has not seen the
children since 2010 and had not had telephone contact with
them for at least six months prior to the termination
hearing. S.P. has no memory of her father; W.P. Jr.'s
only memories involve instances of domestic violence between
W.P. Sr. and the children's mother. Additionally, the
last time the children saw W.P. Sr., a founded child abuse
report followed. Based on the record before us, we agree with
the juvenile court that the children cannot be returned to
the care of W.P. Sr. as required by Iowa Code section
concluding the best interests of the children warranted
termination, the juvenile court stated:
In this case, the children are in foster care, and due to the
age of the children, the length of time they have been in
out-of-home placement, the conduct of [J.B.] and [W.P. Sr.]
that resulted in them abandoning their respective children,
the lack of progress the parents have made toward
reunification, and the department's opinion that
permanent adoptive homes can be found for ...