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In re M.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF M.L., Minor Child, E.B., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Michael A. Woods of Zamora, Taylor, Woods & Frederick, Davenport, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Timothy J. Tupper of Tupper Law Firm, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         The biological father of M.L., who was born 2013, appeals the termination of his parental rights.[1]

         BACKGROUND FACTS.

         The father, a longtime friend of M.L.'s biological mother, agreed to have sexual relations with her with the hopes of producing a child, which the mother and the mother's wife could raise as their own. M.L. was conceived and born after the mother and the wife were legally married.[2] The father maintained a friendship with the mother and even lived with the mother and her wife for a short time after M.L.'s birth. Beyond that, the father was largely absent from M.L.'s life, providing only minimal support either financially or emotionally. The father claims he intentionally stayed out of M.L.'s life out of respect for the marriage of the mother and her wife, and to allow them to raise M.L. as their daughter, with full parenting rights and without interference by him, the biological father.[3] He also claims there was considerable stress between the wife and him, making any attempted contact with M.L. even more difficult.

         M.L. came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in October 2015 when there were concerns the mother was using illegal substances, including heroin, while caring for M.L. Although there is nothing in the record that would indicate the wife was also using controlled substances, the child was removed and placed with her maternal grandmother.[4] At that time, and for most of the time since then, the father has been incarcerated. With little effort by the father to respond to the DHS's efforts to include him in these proceedings, the State sought to terminate his parental rights.[5]

         SCOPE OF REVIEW.

          Our review of termination proceedings is de novo. In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).

         GROUNDS ...


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