IN THE INTEREST OF A.W. and A.W., Minor Children, C.W., Father, Appellant, C.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H.
Liesveld, District Associate Judge.
mother and father each appeal the order terminating their
parental rights to their two daughters.
P. Tang of Law Office of Ryan P. Tang, P.C., Marion, for
appellant father. Michael M. Lindeman of Lindeman Law, Cedar
Rapids, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Patricia J. Meier of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington &
Meier, PLC, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
Cameron and Cassandra challenge the order terminating their
legal relationship with two daughters, six-year-old Ad.W. and
two-year-old Al.W.On appeal, both parents argue the children
could be returned home. Cameron also contends termination of
his parental rights was not in his daughters' best
interests. Given the parents' histories of unabated drug
use, mental-health challenges, and incidents of domestic
violence, we agree with the conclusions of the juvenile court
and affirm the termination order.
spring of 2016, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
received a report that Cassandra was using cocaine while
caring for her daughters. Cassandra had completed a
substance-abuse program at the Heart of Iowa but relapsed in
February 2016. She stopped attending outpatient treatment in
March. The DHS also received a report that Cameron assaulted
Cassandra in the presence of the children and was abusing
pain medication. In a July 2016 order adjudicating Ad.W. and
Al.W. as children in need of assistance (CINA), the juvenile
court chronicled the parents' long struggles with drug
abuse and their criminal records. The court also noted the
parents' difficulty in maintaining stable housing and
girls remained in their parents' home until December 2016
when both Cassandra and Cameron submitted to hair-stat tests
which revealed the presence of cocaine. The court then
ordered tests of the children's hair; Ad.W. tested
positive for exposure to methamphetamine, cocaine,
benzoylecgonine, and norcaine. The girls have been in foster
care since January 2017.
the intervening year, neither Cassandra nor Cameron engaged
in substance-abuse treatment as expected by the DHS. Both
tested positive for drugs in the summer of 2017 and failed to
submit to drug testing requested by the DHS since the fall of
2017. Addressing their mental-health needs has also been an
ongoing issue for both parents. Cassandra has been diagnosed
with anxiety and major depressive disorder; Cameron has been
diagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and
attention-deficit disorder. Neither consistently followed
through with counseling or medication management, according
to the testimony of their caseworker.
violence was also an issue. Cassandra reported an incident in
January 2018, when Cameron struck and strangled her. She
testified that in the process of trying to stop the assault,
she broke his necklace and phone. Cassandra also acknowledged
Ad.W. had witnessed domestic violence when living at home.
Cameron admitted unhealthy aspects to his relationship with
Cassandra, specifically "the arguing and the drug
use." Housing too was a concern. The parents had been
evicted multiple times. At the time of the termination
hearing, the father was staying with his brother, and the
mother was incarcerated and had been homeless.
problem was inconsistency in the parents' interactions
with Ad.W. and Al.W. The DHS offered them supervised
visitation three times per week. But the parents frequently
arrived late or cancelled visits, which disappointed the
girls, especially the older daughter. And although encouraged
to attend the girls' medical appointments and gymnastics
classes, the parents failed to take advantage of these
additional opportunities to engage in their children's
December 2017, the State filed a petition for termination of
parental rights. In February 2018, the juvenile court heard
testimony from both parents and the DHS caseworker. In March
2018, the juvenile court granted the petition, relying on
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017) as to the older child