IN THE INTEREST OF A.H. and I.H., Minor Children, R.H., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Craig
M. Dreismeier, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
Narmi, Council Bluffs, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and John B. McCormally,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender Office, Council
Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
children in interest were born in 2008 and 2010. The family
was previously involved with child protective services in
another state during which the children were removed from the
parents' care for roughly three and a half years. The
mother's parental rights were ultimately terminated, and
the case was closed with the father having custody of the
children and the mother being entitled to visitation at the
father's discretion. The mother eventually moved back
into the family home with the father and children.
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) in October 2016 upon information that the
father was both using methamphetamine in and selling the
substance from the family home. The father and mother
submitted to urine drug screens and tested negative for
drugs, but the test results indicated the drugs tests were
manipulated. As a result, DHS requested the parents to submit
to hair testing. The parents declined, advising DHS they
would only submit to another urine test. The parents
subsequently agreed to take the hair tests. The parents
failed to timely appear for their first scheduled hair tests.
When the parents ultimately appeared for later tests, the
mother tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamines
and the father did not have a sufficient amount of hair on
his head or body for the test to be completed. As a result,
DHS advised the parents the children would need to be
subjected to hair testing. The parents declined the request.
The children were removed from the parents' care in
October and adjudicated children in need of assistance in
in December, the father was referred to submit to a
urinalysis and sweat-patch test. The father tested negative
for drugs on his urinalysis but reporting from staff at the
testing facility indicated the father manipulated the test.
The father subsequently reported to DHS that his sweat patch
had become damaged shortly after its application. He was
directed to return the patch to the testing center and obtain
a new one. The father never returned the allegedly damaged
patch or obtained a new one.
a substance-abuse evaluation in December, the father enrolled
in outpatient treatment services. In March 2017, the father
tested positive for methamphetamine. In June, the father
engaged inpatient services. He was discharged in July having
substantially completed the program. Shortly thereafter, the
father enrolled in intensive outpatient treatment. He also
submitted to drug screens in late July and early August and
tested negative for drugs. As a result of these positive
steps, DHS elevated the father's visitation with the
children from fully supervised to semi-supervised.
group-therapy session in early September, however, the father
fell asleep and was unresponsive to attempts to awaken him.
Medical staff reported the father exhibited signs of being
under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Later in
September, the father was charged with domestic abuse
assault. The father's interactions with the
children were returned to fully supervised, and DHS
subsequently recommended that a concurrent permanency plan of
termination of parental rights be put in place as a potential
alternative to reunification. The court adopted the
recommendation in its subsequent permanency order.
father was successfully discharged from inpatient treatment
in November, despite violating the program's attendance
policy. The treatment program reported there was nothing to
indicate the father was using illegal drugs at the time of
his discharge. In December, the father was arrested on a
charge of fifth-degree theft. Later in December, the father
admitted to relapsing on methamphetamine. Thereafter, the
father declined to reengage substance-abuse treatment and
submit to drug testing. As a result, in March 2018, the State
petitioned to terminate the father's parental rights. In
April, the father was living with his paramour and her
relatives, but he was asked to leave this residence because
the relatives suspected he was using drugs.
undisputed that the father consistently attended visitations
with the children throughout the life of the case and
generally acted appropriately during those interactions, with
some exceptions. However, the frequency and duration of the
visits began to wane in or about December 2017. It is also
generally undisputed that the father has continued to use
drugs, was largely unemployed throughout the life of the
case, and has been unable to maintain consistent suitable