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In re T.J.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF T.J., Minor Child, J.J., Father, Appellant, K.J., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Karen K. Emerson Peters of Karen K. Emerson Peters Law Office, Atlantic, for appellant father.

          Justin R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, P.L.L.C., Glenwood, for appellant mother.

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

          Karen L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         The 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.[1] 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, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The 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.

         The 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.

         The 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.

         II. ...


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