IN THE INTEREST OF D.S., K.W., and J.W., Minor Children, D.S., K.W., and J.W., Minor Children, Appellants, K.W., Father, Appellant, K.W., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M.
Jacobs, District Associate Judge.
mother, one of the fathers, and the three children at issue
appeal the juvenile court's ruling terminating the
L. White of Des Moines Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines,
attorney for appellants minor children.
M. Carr of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
A. Allison of Allison Law Firm L.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kimberly S. Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian
ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
children-D.S., born in 2002; K.W., born in 2004; and J.W.,
born in 200-are the subject of the juvenile court's
termination of the parental rights of the mother and the two
separate fathers. K.H. is the biological father of D.S.; he
has not appealed. The three children, their mother, and the
biological father of K.W. and J.W. (who is also the
stepfather to D.S.) have appealed the juvenile court's
Background Facts and Proceedings.
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with
this family in October 2015 based on allegations the mother
was using methamphetamine while caring for the children. The
mother agreed to the application of a sweat patch, which
returned a positive result for methamphetamine. The father
was serving a prison sentence at the time, and the mother was
the children's only caregiver. There were also concerns
surrounding the family's unstable housing.
in November, the mother was arrested and remained in jail for
robbery in the second degree; the mother agreed to the official
removal of the boys from her care.
appears the appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) made an oral
motion to bifurcate the roles of GAL and attorney to the
children at the November 20 removal hearing. See Iowa
Code § 232.89(4) (2015). In the removal order, the court
included a note under "OTHER" stating, "Motion
to bifurcate is granted." The children have continued to
have a separate GAL and an attorney throughout the
the mother was released from jail in late November, she had
an unstable living situation. She was employed only
intermittently, and she refused to obtain a mental-health
evaluation or to consider attending therapy. The mother
completed a substance-abuse evaluation, which recommended
extended outpatient treatment, but the mother did not follow
father was paroled from prison into a halfway house in the
summer of 2016.
October, the coordinator of the halfway house reported to DHS
the father had been "violence free" while in the
facility, had completed treatment for his addiction to
alcohol, was attending AA meetings twice per week, and was
employed. As instructed, the father had reached out to
D.S.'s and K.W.'s therapists and both reported to DHS
that it would not be harmful to the children if the father
began supervised visits.
November, DHS recommended giving the father a six-month
extension to work toward reunification; the court adopted the
recommendation at the next hearing.
father rented an apartment in January 2017, and both he and