IN THE INTEREST OF J.H., J.H., and J.H., Minor Children, J.H., Father, Appellant, T.H., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W.
Seidlin, District Associate Judge.
mother and a father separately appeal the termination of
their parental rights.
D. Goedicke of Cooper, Goedicke, Reimer & Reese, P.C.,
West Des Moines, for appellant father.
D. Dimitrova of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
mother and father separately appeal the termination of their
parental rights to three children,  the older child born in
January 2017 and the twins born prematurely in December
2017. The older child was removed from the
parents' custody due to an ongoing domestic-violence
situation in July 2017. The twins were formally removed from
the parents' custody in January 2018. After a June 20,
2018 termination-of-parental-rights hearing, the juvenile
court terminated the parents' parental rights on July 18,
2018, pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) and (h)
appeal, the mother and father challenge the existence of
grounds for termination. The father also asserts the juvenile
court erred in determining termination is in the
children's best interests and failing to give due
consideration to the positive strides the father had recently
our de novo review, see In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764,
774 (Iowa 2012), we find clear and convincing evidence the
children could not be returned to the parents' custody at
present without risk of adjudicatory harm. We commend the
parents for their recent efforts to obtain safe and suitable
housing, support in their new-found church and faith, and
counseling. Yet, the father asked for additional time to
establish he could remain substance free, thus acknowledging
that the children could not be returned to the parents'
care at present.
parent has seriously addressed their domestic violence toward
one another. The father has suffered a brain injury and has a
history of domestic violence. The mother is mentally low
functioning, has difficulty caring for herself, struggles to
communicate effectively, and also has a history of domestic
violence. The father acknowledges a thirty-year problem with
drug abuse and admits he relapsed with crack cocaine in April
2018. Both parents denied more recent drug use but both
tested positive for cocaine in May 2018. Visits between the
parents and children have not progressed beyond being fully
supervised. Counselors for both parents reported concern
about the parent being able to care for the children safely.
Because the children are under three years of age, have been
adjudicated children in need of assistance, have been out of
the parents' custody for at least six consecutive months,
and cannot be returned to the parents at present, termination
of parental rights is appropriate pursuant to section
232.116(1)(h). See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707
(Iowa 2010) ("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.").
children are very young and have been out of the parents'
care for the majority of their lives. The twins have never
resided with the parents. The children are doing well in
their respective placements and their foster families have
indicated a willingness and desire to provide permanency for
the children. Considering the children's safety,
"the best placement for furthering the[ir] long-term
nurturing and growth", and their "physical, mental,
and emotional condition and needs," we conclude
termination is in the children's best interests.
See Iowa Code § 232.116(2). No factor listed in
section 232.116(3) mitigates against termination. We affirm
on both appeals.