IN THE INTEREST OF G.Y., Minor Child, D.Y., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Lynn Poschner,
District Associate Judge.
father contests the termination of his parental rights to his
G. Warutere of Warutere Law Office, Clive, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
father, Devantea, appeals the juvenile court order
terminating his parental rights to one-year-old G.Y. Devantea
first alleges the juvenile court failed to ask about the
child's Native American heritage. He next contends the
State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite him with
G.Y. and did not investigate his adult relatives as placement
options. Devantea also challenges the statutory grounds cited
by the juvenile court for terminating his parental rights.
After fully assessing the record, we affirm the juvenile
court's order. But because the appellate record raises
questions concerning the father's possible membership in
the Cherokee Indian tribe, we remand to ensure compliance
with the notice requirements of the Iowa Indian Child Welfare
Act (Iowa ICWA).
Facts and Prior Proceedings
was born in December 2016. His parents are Devantea and
Jennifer.During her pregnancy with G.Y., Devantea
assaulted Jennifer, breaking her jaw.The Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) started providing services to Jennifer
following an October 2016 founded child-abuse report
involving inadequate supervision of her three older children.
The juvenile court issued a removal order for all four
children in March 2017, finding Jennifer was not providing
proper supervision and Devantea was not an appropriate
placement for G.Y. because he had a "history of violence
including domestic assault and has an extensive drug related
history and he has a[n] NCO in place with the mother as the
juvenile court adjudicated G.Y. as a child in need of
assistance (CINA) in April 2017. Devantea contested the
adjudication and asked the DHS to place G.Y. with
Devantea's uncle. Devantea later asserted the DHS did not
tell him why the paternal uncle was not considered a suitable
custodian. In May 2017, Devantea tested positive for THC, the
active ingredient in marijuana.
intervening year, Devantea had sparse contact with his son.
He saw G.Y. in May 2017 and then not again until November
2017. Devantea attended visits on November 10 and 17, but
refused to schedule or confirm any additional
sessions. Devantea did not engage in therapy to
address his aggressive behaviors or participate in other
services recommended by the DHS. He also continued to use
controlled substances and failed to resolve an out-of-state
warrant for his arrest.
holding permanency hearings in March 2018, the juvenile court
decided G.Y. should remain in out-of-home placement. The
court found Devantae-who did not attend the hearings-could
not assume custody of G.Y. because he had "absented
himself from his son's life" and had not taken part
in any services. At the May 2018 termination hearing,
Devantae testified he had not seen G.Y. since November 2017
because he felt "discouraged" his son was not
placed with a family member. He also admitted sending
Jennifer a threatening message stating: "My son
don't come home in March, I promise to God I will smack
your ass in the courtroom."
juvenile court terminated Devantea's parental rights
under three statutory provisions: paragraphs (b), (e), and