from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine
Dalton Ploof, District Associate Judge.
mother and father both challenge a juvenile court order
terminating their parental relationships with their daughter.
Rebecca G. Ruggero, Davenport, for appellant mother. Steven
W. Stickle of Stickle Law Firm, P.L.C., Davenport, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Rebecca C. Sharpe of Aitken, Aitken & Sharpe, P.C.,
Bettendorf, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
mother, Victoria, and a father, Dustin, separately appeal the
juvenile court order terminating their parental relationships
with their now six-year-old daughter, P.J. Both parents argue
the record lacks clear and convincing evidence supporting
termination and termination is not in P.J.'s best
interests. Dustin also contends the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite
him with P.J. After reviewing the record, we reach the same
conclusions as the juvenile court.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
was born in October 2012. The DHS first intervened with the
family in the summer of 2017 after receiving reports the
parents had physically abused P.J. The child also witnessed
violence between her parents. The juvenile court ordered
P.J.'s removal from her parents' care and approved
placement with her maternal uncle and aunt. They have
provided P.J. a stable home throughout the case.
August 2017, the parents stipulated P.J. was a child in need
of assistance (CINA). The juvenile court accepted the
stipulation, finding adjudication appropriate under Iowa Code
section 232.2(6)(b) and (c)(2) (2017), explaining:
[T]he State has provided clear and convincing evidence that
the parents have been disciplining the child by hitting her.
This has left bruising to her lower back and a minor cut to
her lip. The mother is struggling with alcoholism. The father
has admitted selling marijuana from the residence. Both these
issues demonstrate a potential for harm due to inadequate or
addition to her physical injuries, mental-health therapists
diagnosed P.J. with post-traumatic stress disorder and
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Therapist Adam
Vilmont testified he had "never seen a five-year-old
child that has been this significantly traumatized by her
parents." P.J. struggled with tantrums and self-harm,
including biting and strangulation.
with the child-welfare case, the State charged both parents
with child endangerment for their abuse of P.J. But even with
the criminal charges pending, neither Dustin nor Victoria
took the necessary steps to repair their ...