IN THE INTEREST OF J.R., S.C., and J.R., Minor Children, K.R., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Choate
Cox, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
three children. AFFIRMED.
J. Hagemeier of Williams & Hagemeier, P.L.C., Des Moines,
for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
P. Jellineck of Public Defender Office, Des Moines, guardian
ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
termination-of-parental-rights appeal illustrates the
intractable and destructive nature of domestic violence. A
mother, Kyra, appeals from a juvenile court order terminating
her parental rights to her three children-five-year-old
J.C.R., three-year-old S.C., and one-year-old J.L.R. Kyra
argues the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for
termination by clear and convincing evidence and termination
was not in the children's best interests. Specifically,
she contends the juvenile court should not have based its
termination decision solely on her inability to protect the
children from exposure to domestic abuse perpetrated against
her by the children's father, Shane. Kyra asserts she
tried to cut off contact with Shane, but her safety plans
"did not work." In addition, Kyra maintains the court
should not have terminated her parental rights due to the
close bond the children share with her. She alternatively
asks for additional time to work toward reunification.
doubt exists that Kyra was the victim of repeated acts of
domestic violence committed by Shane. The mother's
attorney makes compelling arguments in the petition on
appeal, alleging "re-victimization" faced by Kyra
in these child-welfare proceedings. But after reviewing the
entire record and giving appropriate deference to the
juvenile court's credibility determinations, we find
clear and convincing evidence to support the thorough
findings of the juvenile court and its ultimate conclusion
that "the mother cannot and/or will not protect the
children from their 'dangerous'
Background Facts and Prior Proceedings
has engaged in a pattern of domestic abuse against Kyra,
often in the presence of their oldest child, J.C.R. The Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) first became involved with
the family in December 2012, when J.C.R. was one year old,
after Kyra reported to the police that Shane had strangled
her during an argument. The State charged Shane with child
endangerment and domestic-abuse assault but later dismissed
both counts, indicating "victim's statements
post-arrest has made her unavailable for trial."
next three and a half years, the domestic violence continued,
and the DHS repeatedly expressed concerns to Kyra about her
relationship with Shane. The juvenile court first ordered the
removal of J.C.R. and S.C., who was born in January 2014,
from Kyra's care in March 2014 as a result of those
concerns. The court adjudicated J.C.R. and S.C. as children
in need of assistance (CINA), ordered no contact between Kyra
and Shane, and returned the children to Kyra's care three
days after removal.
children's return home was short-lived. The following
month the court again ordered their removal after the State
presented recordings of phone calls between Kyra and Shane
while he was in jail. Between 2014 and 2016, the children
moved in and out of Kyra's home on three separate
occasions. Kyra participated in therapy and
domestic-violence-awareness classes and consistently denied
having contact with Shane. Yet observations of DHS case
workers, police reports, and, occasionally, Kyra's own
admissions all indicated the parents continued to spend time
juvenile court terminated Shane's parental rights on July
31, 2015.That same evening, a social worker saw Kyra
and Shane at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant with the children.
About a week later, on August 7, J.C.R. and S.C. were removed
from Kyra's care after a social worker made an
unannounced visit at Kyra's apartment and found Shane in
her bed. J.C.R. and S.C. have not ...