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In re T.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 20, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF T.B. and B.B., Minor Children, J.W., Mother, Appellant, C.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for O'Brien County, David C. Larson, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father each appeal from termination of their parental rights to two children.

          Christopher D. Sandy of Sandy Law Firm, Spirit Lake, for appellant mother.

          Tobias Cosgrove, Sibley, for appellant father.

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

          Tisha M. Halverson of Klay, Veldhuizen, Bindner, DeJong & Halverson PLC, Paullina, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         Charles and Joni[1] appeal from termination of their parental rights to two children, five-year-old B.B. and two-year-old T.B. The parents contend the State failed to offer clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (h) (2017). The parents also argue termination of their rights will be detrimental to the children due to the closeness of their relationship and they should have been given an additional six months to work toward reunification.

         We have reviewed the record and now determine, although the parents addressed the initial concerns of homelessness and instability, continued removal of the children is necessary because of shortcomings in their parenting skills and judgment. After two years out of their parents' care, including an extension of six months, the best interests of the children will be served by termination of parental rights. We affirm the order of the juvenile court.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         The family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in December 2015, when T.B. was six months old. Charles was carrying the child and dropped him, breaking one of his legs. An investigation concluded the harm was accidental. In May 2016, DHS discovered the family was homeless, and the parents agreed to a voluntary foster care arrangement until they could obtain stable housing and jobs.

         The juvenile court adjudicated the children in need of assistance (CINA) in August 2016 and placed them with a foster family. See Iowa Code § 232.2(6)(g) (failure to exercise a minimal degree of care in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, or shelter). To achieve reunification, the court expected the parents to obtain secure housing and jobs, and to participate in services-including budgeting and parenting instruction. The DHS also provided mental health services for the parents; family safety, risk, and permanency services; visitation; parent-child interactive therapy (PCIT) services; individual therapy; psychiatric evaluations; and transportation assistance. Following review hearings in October and December 2016, the court determined the children still could not be returned to the parents.

         In April 2017, after the children had been out of the parents' care for one year, the court held a permanency hearing and concluded, "[I]t is reasonable to believe that the need for continued removal will no longer exist at the end of an additional three months." Then, in July 2017, the court gave the parents another three months to work toward reunification. But by October, the court had determined the children still could not be returned, and the State filed a petition to terminate parental rights. After ...


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