IN THE INTEREST OF T.J., Minor Child, J.J., Father, Appellant, K.J., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, Amy L.
Zacharias, District Associate Judge.
mother and father separately appeal the termination of their
parental rights to their child. AFFIRMED ON BOTH
K. Emerson Peters of Karen K. Emerson Peters Law Office,
Atlantic, for appellant father.
R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, P.L.L.C., Glenwood, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
mother and father separately appeal from the district
court's order terminating their parental rights to their
child, T.J. Both the mother and father assert the State
offered insufficient proof to terminate their parental rights
under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2016), termination was
not in the child's best interest, and they should have
been granted an additional six months to work towards
reunification. Because the child could not be returned to
either parent, termination was in the child's best
interests, an additional six months would not result in
reunification, and there are no impediments to termination,
Background Facts and Proceedings
child, born May 2016, came to the attention of the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) following concerns for her
wellbeing and safety. Both the mother and the father have
mental-health diagnoses, and the father was not taking his
prescribed medications, resulting in anger issues. While the
DHS was in the process of filing a CINA petition, a referral
from the mother's therapist arrived at the DHS after the
mother indicated she did not want to be around her baby,
wanted to run away, and was pleading for help. On July 8,
2016, the child was temporarily removed and placed with a
foster family; she was adjudicated a child in need of
assistance on August 17.
child remained with the same foster family throughout these
proceedings. The mother and father were offered services to
correct the circumstances that led to the adjudication, such
as medication management, mental-health services, and money
management. Some of the services were completed, but during
visitations and other meetings with the parents, the DHS was
concerned the child was not being adequately fed, the parents
continued to smoke or arrived at meetings smelling like smoke
after being told not to, and the father had not progressed
with controlling his anger issues. The mother and father
eventually revoked releases of their medical information from
Southwest Iowa Mental Health. The DHS indicated the mother
and father had not progressed in their care of the child and,
as a result, they did not progress to overnight or even
unsupervised visits with the child.
April 21, 2017 permanency review order continued to find a
lack of progress by the mother and father in spite of their
receipt of services. Thereafter, the State filed a petition
to terminate the mother and father's parental rights,
which came on for hearing on August 30. The court issued its
order on September 20, 2017, terminating the mother's and
father's parental rights.