IN THE INTEREST OF C.T., R.T., and C.T., Minor Children, R.T., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F.
Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.
father appeals a juvenile court order terminating his
parental rights to three children. AFFIRMED.
R. Fiester, Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Trachta of Linn County Advocate, Inc., Cedar Rapids, guardian
ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
use and domestic violence in the home prompted the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) to intervene with this
family. The juvenile court approved removal of the three
children-Co.T., R.T., and Ca.T.- from their parents' care
in June 2017. More than one year later, the court terminated
parental rights. On appeal, the father, Randy, argues the
State failed to offer clear and convincing evidence the
children could not be returned to his custody at the present
time. See Iowa Code §
232.116(1)(f), (h) (2018). In the alternative, he asks for
more time to complete the DHS case plan expectations. He also
urges termination is not in the children's best
interests. And, because they are in the care of their
maternal grandmother, Randy believes the children would not
suffer harm if we delay permanency.
reviewing the record, our conclusions match those of the
juvenile court. Despite Randy's recent progress in
drug treatment, sufficient evidence supported the statutory
grounds for termination. Like the district court, we do not
see Iowa Code subsections 232.116(2) or (3) as barriers to
termination. Nor do we believe an additional six months would
eliminate the need for removal. See Iowa Code §
232.104(2)(b). Accordingly, we affirm the termination order.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and April have three children: Co.T., born in 2008; R.T.,
born in 2013; and Ca.T., born in 2015. A child-abuse
assessment in June 2017 recommended removal of the children
based on the parents' abuse of methamphetamine and
several incidents where the parents engaged in violence
against one another. Since the court approved removal, the
children have been in the care of their maternal grandmother.
The parents stipulated the children were in need of
assistance (CINA) in July 2017.
continued to use methamphetamine "on and off" for
the next year.In March 2018, the police arrested Randy
for possession of methamphetamine.In April 2018, during a
supervised visit at Randy's home, the youngest child,
Ca.T., found a glass pipe with burnt resident behind the
couch and put it in her mouth.That same month, Randy received a
diagnosis of severe methamphetamine use disorder. He began
residential substance-abuse treatment in mid-June 2018 and
completed the program in early July, though he left a few
days early to attend court hearings. He did not undertake
ongoing outpatient treatment as recommended. He testified he
was attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. At the time of
the termination hearing, Randy had logged only about six
weeks of sobriety.
addition to his substance-abuse struggles, Randy continued
his "toxic" relationship with April throughout the
CINA case. In April 2018, Randy hit her in the face,
splitting her lip. The continuing violence increased the
frustration ten- year-old Co.T. felt toward his parents. By
the time of the termination hearing, Randy hadn't yet
started domestic abuse prevention classes. And social workers
were not convinced Randy could end the unhealthy pattern of
abuse toward April.
most of the CINA case, Randy was inconsistent in his visits
with the children, missing an average of two scheduled
sessions per month. In the month before the hearing, Randy
became more reliable, according to social workers. Overall,
his visits went well. Randy was "interactive" with
the children, though he had some difficulty handling all
three children in public places. The oldest, Co.T., grew
reluctant to attend the visits because of his increasing
anger toward his parents. The guardian ad litem (GAL)
reported, "From [Co.T.'s] perspective he ...