IN THE INTEREST OF M.M. and I.M., Minor Children, C.J., Mother, Petitioner-Appellee, G.M., Father, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Monroe County, William S.
Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to two
sons under Iowa Code chapter 600A.
F. Bozwell, Jr., Centerville, for appellant father.
E. Goodlow, Albia, for appellee mother.
S. Maughan, Albia, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
father, Gabriel, appeals the juvenile court order terminating
his parental rights to two sons, twelve-year-old M.M. and
nine-year-old I.M. He contests the finding he abandoned the
children under Iowa Code section 600A.2(19) (2017). He also
argues termination is not in the children's best
interests. After reviewing the record anew, we reach the same
conclusions as the juvenile court. The mother, Crystal, offered
clear and convincing evidence Gabriel, by his actions,
rejected the duties imposed by a parent-child relationship.
She also showed termination would help satisfy the
children's need for consistency and stability. For these
reasons, we affirm the termination order.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Crystal were married for almost six years, divorcing in
2008. They had two sons. M.M. was born in 2006. His brother,
I.M., was born two years later. After the divorce, Crystal
had physical care of the boys. The decree allowed Gabriel
visitation and directed him to pay child support.
lacked stability after the divorce. He moved quite a bit and
often stayed with friends or relatives. And he did not hold
steady employment-at one point going three years without a
job. As a consequence, he exercised visitation and paid child
support only sporadically. Gabriel admitted a history of
methamphetamine and marijuana abuse. But he testified to
being drug-free for 200 days at the time of the termination
remarried in 2012. She and her husband, Travis, care for M.M.
and I.M., as well as three children they share. Travis
testified he gets along "great" with I.M. and M.M.
and wishes to adopt them.
their part, the boys have experienced behavioral challenges.
Crystal testified the family doctor diagnosed I.M. as having
oppositional defiance disorder, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive mood dysregulation
disorder, seizure disorder, and intellectual disabilities.
For these conditions, the doctor prescribed four different
medications to be taken daily. Crystal testified if I.M. does
not stay on schedule with his prescriptions, his behavior
"gets really bad" and he risks a higher chance of
having a seizure. I.M. has been hospitalized twice for mental
health issues. M.M. also takes daily medication for ADHD and
expressed concern Gabriel did not properly administer the
boys' medications when he had them for weekend
visitations. After one visitation in particular, she believed
their uncontrolled behavior signaled they had not received
proper doses. When she asked Gabriel about it in a text
message, she received this response: "I gave them enough
medication so that they wouldn't have withdrawals."
A testy phone call followed in which Gabriel and Travis
exchanged threats. Gabriel testified Crystal did not include
him in the decision to have ...