IN THE INTEREST OF K.F., A.L., and D.F.-L., Minor Children, A.L., Father, Appellant, A.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M.
Jacobs, District Associate Judge.
mother and father separately appeal the juvenile court order
terminating their parental rights.
Shireen L. Carter of Shireen Carter Law Office, P.L.C.,
Norwalk, for appellant father. Ashley M. Sparks of Cooper,
Goedicke, Reimer and Reese, P.C., West Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
ConGarry D. Williams of Juvenile Public Defender's
Office, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
mother, Alexis, appeals the juvenile court order terminating
her parental relationship with three children-nine-year-old
D.F.-L., five-year-old A.L., and one-year-old K.F. Alexis
claims she has corrected the circumstances leading to her
convictions for child endangerment and the children can
safely be returned to her care. She also maintains
termination was not in the children's best interests
because of their close bond with her. A father, Austyn,
separately appeals the order as it relates to the two older
children. Austyn claims termination of his parental
rights would be harmful to the children and the juvenile
court could have established a guardianship with the paternal
grandmother, who has cared for the children during the
pendency of the child welfare case.
independently assessing the record,  we reach the same
conclusions as the juvenile court. If returned to the care of
Alexis and Austyn, the children would likely face continued
"chaos, drugs, and volatile situations." The
termination of parental rights offers these children the best
chance at a stable placement and ultimately adoption.
Accordingly, we affirm the juvenile court's order.
I. Facts and Prior Proceedings
assaulted her daughter D.F.-L, then seven years old, in the
spring of 2016, prompting the State to file a
child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition. D.F.-L. told
authorities her mother regularly punched and kicked her in
the head and body and several times threw her against a wall.
The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed both
D.F.-L. and her younger sister, A.L., from their mother's
care in May 2016. Drug screens revealed both children had
tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of marijuana, in
their systems. A.L. also tested positive for cocaine. At the
time of removal, Alexis was pregnant with her third child.
CINA petition, the State alleged Austyn, the father of
D.F.-L. and A.L., had a history of substance abuse and
domestic violence and was not a suitable caregiver. The DHS
placed D.F.-L. and A.L. with Austyn's mother.
eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment
and one count of neglect of a dependent; in December 2016 she
was placed on probation for eighteen months. Alexis has been
diagnosed with mental-health issues, including depression and
post-traumatic stress disorder. She engaged in therapy, but
inconsistently, during the CINA case. Alexis also has a
history of marijuana and cocaine use. At the termination
hearing, she called her efforts at sobriety "a work in
February 2017, the juvenile court found the parents were
making progress, Alexis was complying with the conditions of
her probation, and both parents exercised almost daily
visitation with the children-supervised by the grandmother.
But when K.F. was born later that month, he tested positive