IN THE INTEREST OF T.G., Minor Child, A.G., Father, Appellant, A.M., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox,
District Associate Judge.
mother and father appeal the termination of their respective
parental rights in their child.
Zachary C. Priebe of Jeff Carter Law Offices, PC, Des Moines,
for appellant father.
Magdalena Reese of Cooper, Goedicke, Reimer & Reese,
P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
and Alexandra each appeal from an order terminating their
parental rights in their child T.B. (age 2). The juvenile
court terminated Alan's parental rights pursuant to Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(b), (e), and (h) (2018) and
Alexandra's parental rights pursuant to section
232.116(1)(h). On appeal, Alan challenges the sufficiency of
the evidence supporting termination of his parental rights
under section 232.116(b) and (e), and Alexandra challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting termination of her
parental rights pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h). Both
parents argue termination of their parental rights is not in
T.B.'s best interest. Finally, Alexandra argues her close
bond with T.B. should preclude termination.
court reviews termination proceedings de novo. See In re
A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). The statutory
framework authorizing the termination of a parent-child
relationship is well established. See In re A.S.,
906 N.W.2d 467, 472-73 (Iowa 2018) (setting forth the
statutory framework). The burden is on the State to prove by
clear and convincing evidence (1) the statutory ground or
grounds authorizing the termination of parental rights and
(2) termination of parental rights is in the best interest of
the child. See In re E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL
2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017).
first address Alan and Alexandra's challenges to the
sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory grounds
authorizing termination of their respective parental rights.
With respect to Alan, he challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting termination under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(b) and (e) but does not challenge the sufficiency
of the evidence supporting termination pursuant to section
232.116(1)(h). Alan's failure to challenge the evidence
supporting termination under section 232.116(1)(h)
constitutes waiver of the issue. See In re P.L., 778
N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010); In re K.R., No. 18-0546,
2018 WL 3302207, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. July 5, 2018); In
re M.K., No. 14-0676, 2014 WL 2885366, at *2 (Iowa Ct.
App. June 25, 2014). "When the juvenile court terminates
parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we may
affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground we find
supported by the record." In re A.B., 815
N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa 2012). There is clear and convincing
evidence supporting termination of Alan's parental rights
pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h). Because there is
sufficient evidence supporting termination pursuant to
section 232.116(1)(h), we do not address Alan's
challenges to the sufficiency of evidence under paragraphs
(b) and (e).
respect to Alexandra, she contends there is insufficient
evidence authorizing termination of her parental rights
pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h). She limits her challenge
to the fourth element of paragraph (h). That element
"require[s] clear and convincing evidence the children
would be exposed to an appreciable risk of adjudicatory harm
if returned to the parent's custody at the time of the
termination hearing." E.H., 2017 WL 2684420, at
novo review, we conclude there is clear and convincing
evidence supporting termination of Alexandra's rights
pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h). First, Alexandra's
ongoing substance abuse impairs her ability to provide
adequate care for T.G. When the child was born, the cord
blood tested positive for marijuana. While the case was
pending, the child was subjected to a hair stat test, which
was positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine. Reports
showed the parents used drugs in the child's presence.
While Alexandra successfully completed substance-abuse
treatment in July 2017, she failed to maintain sobriety. She
relapsed and tested positive for methamphetamine as recently
as March 2018. Although she received an updated
substance-abuse evaluation following her relapse, Alexandra
failed to comply with its recommendation for outpatient
substance-abuse therapy. At the termination hearing,
Alexandra conceded she intended to continue her drug use
despite knowing her substance abuse was not in T.G.'s
best interest. Alexandra's continued substance abuse
creates an appreciable risk of harm to T.G. See In re
A.Z., No. 18-1420, 2018 WL 4909831, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App.
Oct. 10, 2018) (finding children could not be returned to the
mother when she did not address her substance-abuse and
mental-health issues); In re A.W., No. 18-0094, 2018
WL 1182618, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 7, 2018) (finding
mother's failure to address substance-abuse issues
supported termination of her parental rights); In re
C.E., No. 15-0835, 2015 WL 5578395, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App.
Sept. 23, 2015) (collecting cases finding children could not
be returned to parents with unresolved substance-abuse
in addition to her unresolved substance abuse, Alexandra
continues to interact with Alan despite directives to cease
contact. At the time of termination, there was an active
no-contact order between Alan and Alexandra due to Alan's
criminal conviction for domestic abuse assault of Alexandra.
Alexandra's continued contact with Alan creates an
appreciable risk of harm to T.G. See In re A.S., No.
17-1810, 2018 WL 542646, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. ...