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In re T.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 27, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF T.R., C.R., and K.R., Minor Children, J.R., Father, Appellant, S.H., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         A father and mother appeal separately from the order terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Alexandra M. Nelissen of Taylor Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Marcy J. Lundberg of Lundberg Law Firm, Indianola, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          ConGarry Williams of the Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         A mother and a father separately appeal the order terminating their parental rights to three children: K.H.R., born in May 2010; T.H.R., born in October 2008; and C.H.R., born in September 2005. The children-all over the age of four-were removed from the parents' home on December 22, 2015; were adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA) on February 1, 2016; have been out of the parents' custody for well over a year; and could not be returned to either parent at the time of the termination hearing on June 5, 2017. There is therefore clear and convincing evidence to support the termination of each parent's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017) (allowing termination of parental rights where child four years or older has been adjudicated CINA, has been out of the parents' custody for the last twelve consecutive months, and cannot be returned at present).

         While both the mother and father argue there was not clear evidence the children could not be returned at present, which would negate a finding under section 232.116(1)(f), we observe the father conceded as much at the termination hearing.[1] And the mother, on appeal, notes she "requested the court grant her additional time to successfully transition the children back into her care." This is also an acknowledgment the children could not be returned at present.

         This family has a long history of involvement with the department of human services and the juvenile court in relation to the parents' inabilities to provide safe and secure care. There are numerous founded child-abuse assessments against these parents. An earlier CINA proceeding was opened in 2011 due to domestic violence and substance-abuse issues. The previous case was closed in 2013, but a new CINA case was opened in December 2015 due to the parents' failure to care for the medical needs of their children. Their then four-year-old child weighed 150 pounds and the other two children were also obese.[2] The children had not received necessary medical care and had extensive medical needs. The parents tested positive for methamphetamine.

         When allegations of physical and sexual abuse of the daughters by the father later surfaced, visitation was suspended. The parents never progressed past therapeutic visits. The father ceased participating in services.

         On December 9, 2016, the juvenile court entered a permanency order finding, in part:

[T]he children were subjected to a violent environment [including] the display of weapons prior to their removal and that such was perpetrated by the father . . ., and that this is a changed and new finding from the hearing in August 2016. [The father] is not sufficiently engaged and in therapy to give significant hope at this time that reunification can take place with him. He needs to move out or separate from ...

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