IN THE INTEREST OF R.T. and X.T., Minor Children, J.T., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Appanoose County, William S.
Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.
father appeals the order entered by the juvenile court
terminating his parental rights to his children.
A. George of Griffing and George Law Firm, P.L.C.,
Centerville, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State. Julie R. De Vries of De
Vries Law Office, P.L.C., Centerville, guardian ad litem for
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
father had two children, born in 2014 and 2015. The department of
human services twice investigated him for child abuse and
twice issued founded reports naming him as the perpetrator.
The first report was based on the father's inattention to
the older child's safety. The second was filed after the
younger child sustained an arm fracture that "appear[ed]
to be non-accidental." The juvenile court ordered the
children temporarily removed from the parents' care. They
were placed with their maternal grandparents, where they
remained throughout the proceedings. The court later adjudicated
the children as children in need of assistance and eventually
terminated both parents' parental rights to the children.
appeal, the father (1) challenges "the circumstances
which caused the removal" and "the court's
rationale for continued removal"; (2) challenges the
ground for termination cited by the juvenile court and
contends the department of human services failed to make
reasonable efforts toward reunification; (3) argues he should
have been granted additional time to facilitate
reunification; and (4) contends a guardianship, rather than
termination of parental rights, was in the best interests of
father argues, "[T]he circumstances which caused the
[children's] removal were not sufficient for
removal." This issue is moot. See Homan v.
Branstad, 864 N.W.2d 321, 328 (Iowa 2015) ("A case
is moot if it no longer presents a justiciable controversy
because the issues involved are academic or
nonexistent." (quoting Iowa Bankers Ass'n v.
Iowa Credit Union Dep't, 334 N.W.2d 439, 442 (Iowa
1983))); In re A.M.H., 516 N.W.2d 867, 871 (Iowa
1994) (finding parent's challenge to removal order moot
where the court subsequently entered adjudicatory and
dispositional orders). Accordingly, we decline to consider
the father's challenge to the removal order.
Ground for Termination and Reasonable Efforts
district court terminated the father's parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017), which
requires proof of several elements, including proof a child
cannot be returned to the parent's custody. "[A]s
part of its ultimate proof the child cannot be safely
returned to the care of a parent, " "[t]he State
must show reasonable efforts" were made to reunify
parent with child. See In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489,
493 (Iowa 2000).
father argues the department did not make reasonable efforts
toward reunification and, as a result, the State failed to
prove this ground for termination. On our de novo review, we
father tested positive for amphetamines before the inception
of this action and tested positive a second time after the
State filed the child-in-need-of-assistance petition. The
department afforded him ...