IN THE INTEREST OF M.C., A.M., L.M., and A.M., Minor Children, A.M., Father of A.M., L.M., and A.M., Appellant, A.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Daniel
Kitchen, District Associate Judge.
mother and father challenge an order terminating their rights
in their children. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.
Kathryn J. Salazar of Schlegel & Salazar, L.L.P.,
Washington, for appellant father. Jeffrey L. Powell of Powell
and McCullough, PLC, Coralville, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Mitchell of Mitchell Law Office, PLC, Washington, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
and Anthony each appeal from an order terminating their
respective parental rights in three of their children, A.M.
(age 3), L.M. (age 2), and A.M. (age 1), pursuant to Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018). Ambrashia also appeals the
termination of her rights in another child, M.C. (age 6),
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f). Anthony
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the
statutory grounds authorizing termination of his parental
rights. He also claims the Iowa Department of Human Services
("IDHS") did not make reasonable efforts to
facilitate reunification of the family. Both parents
challenge the juvenile court's denial of their requests
for an additional six months' time to work toward
reunification. Both parents also contend termination of their
rights was not in the best interests of the children.
has been involved with this family since August 2014. At that
time, IDHS initiated a child-in-need-of-assistance
proceeding. That proceeding concluded in October 2016.
November 2016, Ambrashia and Anthony's eighteen-month-old
child died in the home. The certificate of death listed an
"undetermined cause of death with malnutrition and
associated neglect" and classified the manner of death
as a homicide. Subsequently, the juvenile court entered a
temporary removal order for three of the children involved in
this case, M.C., A.M., and L.M. The children were placed in
in February 2017, both parents participated in supervised
visits with the children. Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency
Services ("FSRP") specialist Michelle Schuerer
supervised these visits. Ambrashia attended the majority of
the visits, but Anthony missed most visits. Most of
Anthony's absences were due to a conflict between his
work schedule and the visitation schedule.
parents never progressed past supervised visits due to
Schuerer's concerns for the health and safety of the
children. Schuerer had concerns regarding the condition of
the parents' home. The house was cluttered and
unsanitary. Dog feces, urine, and vomit were on the floor
throughout the house. Dog feces was found on a toddler's
bed. Trash and rotting food products were about the house.
The house was infested with gnats and flies. Cleaning
products and electrical cords were left within reach of the
children. Storage totes were stacked in the dining room. A
wax warmer was left on the floor. On one occasion, L.M.
burned himself on the wax warmer. For the most part, the
parents did not provide adequate meals for the children.
March 2017, Ambrashia gave birth to A.M., the youngest child
involved in this termination proceeding. The child's cord
blood tested positive for THC. The child was immediately
removed from the parents' care and placed in foster care
with his siblings. In March and April of 2017, ...