IN THE INTEREST OF A.H. and L.H., Minor Children, Z.H., Father, Appellant, E.B., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Mark F.
Schlenker, District Associate Judge.
mother and father appeal the termination of their parent
rights pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017). AFFIRMED ON
C. Heinicke of Kragnes & Associate, P.C., Des Moines, for
L. Pietz of Pietz Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
C. Naanep, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
and Zachery appeal from the juvenile court's order
terminating their rights in their children A.H. (born April
2015) and L.H. (born April 2016) pursuant to Iowa Code
chapter 232 (2017). Our review is de novo. See In re
A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014); In re
P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010). The statutory
framework authorizing the termination of parental rights is
well established, and it need not be repeated in full herein.
See P.L., 778 N.W.2d at 39.
parents challenge the sufficiency of the evidence
establishing the grounds authorizing the termination of their
parental rights. The juvenile court terminated the
parent's respective rights pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(h) and (l). Where, as here, "the
juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one
statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's
order on any ground we find supported by the record."
In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa 2012).
address the sufficiency of the evidence supporting
termination of the parent's respective rights pursuant to
section 232.116(1)(h). Pursuant to this provision, as
relevant here, the State was required to prove by clear and
convincing evidence "that the child cannot be returned
to the custody of the child's parents as provided in
section 232.102 at the present time." Iowa Code §
232.116(1)(h)(4). A "child cannot be returned to the
custody of the child's parent if the child would remain a
child in need of assistance or would be exposed to harm
amounting to a new child-in-need-of-assistance
adjudication." In re Z.R., No. 17-1004, 2017 WL
4050989, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 13, 2017). Stated
differently, "[w]e have interpreted this [ground] to
require clear and convincing evidence the children would be
exposed to an appreciable risk of adjudicatory harm if
returned to the parent's custody at the time of the
termination hearing." In re E.H., No.
17-0615, 2017 WL 2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017)
is clear and convincing evidence the children could not be
returned to the parent's respective care at the time of
the termination hearing. This family has had prior
involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services
(IDHS). Several of Elizabeth's children, including one
who is not at issue in this proceeding, tested positive for
controlled substances at the time of birth. In the instant
case, the family again came to the attention of IDHS when it
was reported the family was residing in a home with no
running water and sewage backup coming out of the drains,
sinks, toilet, and washing machine. The department's
investigation showed the family had lived in these deplorable
conditions for twenty-eight days, the children were dirty,
and the parents used drugs in the presence of Elizabeth's
the provision of services, neither Elizabeth nor Zachery
addressed the critical issues giving rise to the removal of
the children. Both Elizabeth and Zachery entered
substance-abuse treatment, and both were unsuccessfully
discharged for non-attendance. Both continued to test
positive for marijuana. Elizabeth admitted use of
methamphetamine, and Zachery continued to abuse alcohol.
Neither of the parents addressed their unresolved
mental-health needs. Both continued to engage in criminal
behavior during the course of this proceeding. Each has been
arrested several times during the life of this case. Most
recently, they were arrested and charged with possession of
drug paraphernalia immediately prior to the final termination
hearing. There continues to be domestic violence in the
relationship between the parents. Neither parent completed
any treatment related to domestic violence. The case manager
testified at the termination hearing, "[W]e're in
the same position that we were in when the case
started." At the time of the termination hearing, both
parents confirmed they were not able to assume safe care of
the children: Elizabeth testified she needed additional time,
and Zachery was incarcerated. For these reasons, we find
clear and convincing evidence supports this statutory ground
authorizing the termination of parental rights.
challenges the department's efforts at facilitating
reunification with the children. As part of its ultimate
proof the child could not be returned to the home, the State
must establish it made reasonable efforts to return the child
to the child's home. See Iowa Code §
232.102(9) (providing department of human services must make
"every reasonable effort to return the child to the
child's home as quickly as possible consistent with the
best interests of the child"). IDHS must
"facilitate reunification while protecting the child
from the harm responsible for the removal." In re
M.B., 553 N.W.2d 343, 345 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996). We
conclude the argument is not preserved for appellate review.
Elizabeth did not request different or additional services
than those provided by IDHS or ordered by the juvenile court.
See In ...