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In re B.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 10, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF B.C. and A.C., Minor Children, A.O., Mother, Appellant, C.C., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

         The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.

          Amy R. Dollash of the State Public Defender's Office, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          John J. Bishop, Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and John B. McCormally, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          CARR, SENIOR JUDGE

         The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their son B.C. and their daughter A.C. The mother argues the statutory grounds for termination are not met, the best interests of the children and her parent-child bond preclude termination, and she should receive additional time to pursue reunification. The father argues his parent-child bond precludes termination.[1] We agree with the district court and affirm.

         B.C. and A.C. were born in September 2015 and April 2017, respectively. On May 11, 2017, the family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) following a medical appointment. During the appointment, the mother described fantasies of shaking A.C. to death and choking B.C. until he turned blue. The father also became physically aggressive in the lobby and said he can beat his children if he wants. The children were removed from the parents at that time. On May 18, the children were adjudicated as children in need of assistance (CINA).

         During a semi-supervised visit on September 21, 2017, the father became violent with the mother. As a result of the incident, the father went to jail for about two months and eventually pled guilty to assault causing bodily injury. The mother and father ended their relationship after the incident. At the time of the termination hearing, each parent was allowed separate, fully-supervised visits.

         The mother has been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She began taking her current medications in mid-March 2018. She testified she has previously stopped taking her medications because of the cost and because she has felt like she has "been a test dummy for antidepressants." At the time of the termination hearing, she temporarily lived in the home of the children's aunt, and she had worked for a temp agency for about a month with the hope of being hired permanently.

         The father has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and anxiety. He testified he has been consistently taking his medications since January 2018, although the guardian ad litem doubted he had been taking medications consistently. The father acknowledged he has previously stopped taking medications when he did not believe they helped. During the termination hearing, he said he was temporarily living with unspecified friends and he worked odd jobs while pursuing regular employment with a temp-to-hire business.

         On January 22, 2018, the State petitioned to terminate the parental rights of the mother and father. On April 2, the court held a termination hearing. On May 2, the court terminated both parents' rights to both children under ...


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