IN THE INTEREST OF M.L., Minor Child, E.B., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
Michael A. Woods of Zamora, Taylor, Woods & Frederick,
Davenport, for appellant father.
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.
biological father of M.L., who was born 2013, appeals the
termination of his parental rights.
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. 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. He also claims there was considerable
stress between the wife and him, making any attempted contact
with M.L. even more difficult.
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. 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.
review of termination proceedings is de novo. In re
C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).