IN THE INTEREST OF M.M., I.M., and J.M., Minor Children, O.F., Father, Appellant, J.M., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Winnebago County, Karen
Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.
mother and father of three children appeal the termination of
their parental rights.
L. Garland, Garner, for appellant father.
M. Wright, Forest City, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Theodore J. Hovda, Garner, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
mother and father of three children jointly appeal the
termination of their parental rights. Agreeing with the
district court that termination is in the children's best
interests and there are no impediments to termination, we
mother and father both assert it is not in the best interests
of the children to terminate their parental rights, giving
"primary consideration to the child[ren]'s safety,
to the best placement for furthering the long-term nurturing
and growth of the child[ren], and to the physical, mental,
and emotional condition and needs of the child[ren]."
See Iowa Code § 232.116(2)
review termination proceedings de novo, giving weight to, but
not being bound by, the district court's fact findings.
In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). The
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) in June 2015, when another child-one-month-old
L.M.-was brought to the hospital, near death. He had suffered
from an untreated stomach illness, which resulted in
multi-organ failure. Although he survived against all medical
odds, he is severely disabled, functioning as an infant, with
a short life expectancy. It is with this backdrop the
parents' ability to safely parent the other children in
the family is viewed.
born 2007, and I.M., born 2009, were allowed to stay in the
parental home following the removal of L.M., but they were
under the protective eye of the DHS with intense services
offered to the parents. The children were adjudicated in need
of assistance in September 2015. Both children suffer from
autism- I.M.'s condition is much more severe than
M.M.-but both children need close supervision and assistance
with basic life skills. With little progress in the
parents' understanding of the medical needs of these
children, the children were removed and placed in separate
foster homes on March 9, 2016. A third child, J.M., was born
in October 2016 and removed the next day. She appears to be
the parents claim the record lacks clear and convincing
evidence that the three children cannot be safely parented
under their control and supervision, we agree with the
district court that the parents lack the necessary skills to
protect their children. The father is frequently absent, and
the mother's psychological evaluation placed her in the
borderline range of intellectual functioning, with the
evaluator noting that "she is unlikely to comprehend a
number of adult oriented conversations." This difficulty
was apparent to the DHS staff who needed to prompt the mother
to do the most simple of parenting tasks during visitations.
The record supports the district court's finding the
mother "is woefully inadequate in identifying the needs
of a child, let alone meeting any needs."
parents also assert the district court failed to consider the
statutory impediments to termination, claiming termination
would be detrimental to the children. See Iowa Code
§ 232.116(3). We disagree, as the ...