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In re K.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 8, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF K.W., Minor Child, H.H., Mother, Appellant, B.W., Father. Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin A. Parker, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal from an order terminating their parental rights.

          Kimberly A. Graham, Indianola, for appellant mother.

          Bryan P. Webber of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Yvonne C. Naanep of Yvonne C. Naanep Attorney at Law, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A mother and father separately appeal from an order terminating their parental rights to their minor child, K.W., born in 2016. Both parents contend the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence the statutory grounds for termination and termination is not in the best interests of the child.

         I. Background

         The parents and child came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in September 2016 as a result of a pending child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) matter concerning another child of the parents. The father has previous involvement with DHS, including two founded physical abuse reports and three terminations of parental rights. The father has been convicted of child endangerment on two separate occasions. Both convictions involved physical abuse of two of his other children. Two days after K.W.'s birth, the mother consented to removal of K.W., and the child was placed in foster care. In consenting to removal, the mother conceded "[c]ontinued placement of [K.W.] in the home would be contrary to [her] welfare due to [the] mother's inability to keep [K.W.] safe." A temporary-removal order was entered the following day.

         The State filed a CINA petition shortly after removal, stating K.W.'s sibling was adjudicated CINA "due to the mother's inability to keep her away from" the father and the mother's "continued contact with [the father] knowing his history puts [K.W.] at risk for abuse." In November, the juvenile court ordered removal to continue and adjudicated K.W. CINA, concluding the mother's continued contact with the father put the child at risk for abuse. Following a dispositional hearing in December, the juvenile court concluded placement outside of the home was still necessary because the mother "has not demonstrated she is able to identify safety concerns, " "[s]he is unable to process information in order to make safe and reasonable decisions that would keep [K.W.] safe, " and, "[d]espite over a year of services provided in K.W.'s sibling's case, the same safety concerns remain." The court also granted the State's motion to waive reasonable efforts with regard to the father, noting he was provided services in relation to his other children, "but services were not used and termination occurred" and "[f]urther services would not assist in reuniting the child with [her] father." The State subsequently petitioned for the termination of both parents' parental rights. Following a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), (h), and (i) (2017) and the father's pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) and (i). As noted, both parents appeal.

         II. Standard of Review

         We review termination-of-parental-rights (TPR) proceedings de novo. In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). "We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing the credibility of witnesses." Id. (quoting In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014)). Our primary ...


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