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In re K.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 23, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF K.C. and S.M., Minor Children, R.M., Father of S.M., Appellant, A.C., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L. Block, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.

          Christina M. Shriver, Waterloo, for appellant father.

          Andrew C. Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Melissa A. Anderson-Seeber of Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A mother, A.C., and a father separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights. Because grounds for termination exist and termination of the parents' parental rights is in the children's best interests, we affirm on both appeals.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         K.C. was born to A.C. in February 2016.[1] K.C.'s father is unknown.[2] The mother and R.M. were living together with K.C. in February 2017, when the family came to the attention of the department of human services (DHS). On February 17, K.C. was transported by ambulance to the hospital, diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome, and placed in a medically induced coma. The child suffered extensive injuries while in R.M.'s sole care. R.M. stated the child fell off the couch. Medical staff determined the explanation given concerning the injuries sustained by K.C. was not plausible, and it was determined the injuries were a result of abusive head trauma involving severe shaking.[3] A child-abuse assessment conducted by DHS resulted in a finding that R.M. was responsible for physical abuse of K.C. resulting in serious injury.[4] The child remained hospitalized for several weeks and was discharged to a residential rehabilitation facility for children. K.C. remained at the facility until August 29, 2018, when he was moved to family foster care.

         The mother was pregnant with R.M.'s child at the time of K.C.'s injuries and did not believe R.M. had injured K.C. DHS expressed concerns about her choosing to stay with R.M., but she continued to live with him.[5] A.C.'s and R.M.'s child, S.M., was born prematurely in July 2017. The infant was removed from the parents' custody shortly after birth.

         R.M. does not acknowledge any responsibility for K.C.'s injuries, and the mother does not believe R.M. had any involvement. The children have remained in foster care placements since their respective removals, where they are doing well. The foster families have indicated their willingness to offer permanency to the children.

         A termination-of-parental-rights hearing was held on May 1, 2018. On July 9, the juvenile court terminated the mother's rights to K.C. and S.M. pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d) and (h) (2018). R.M.'s parental rights to S.M. were terminated pursuant to section 232.116(1)(d) and (h). Both parents appeal.

         II. ...


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