IN THE INTEREST OF T.H., Minor Child, T.H., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L.
Block, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
A. Milder, Waverly, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Michael Lanigan of Law Office of Michael Lanigan, Waterloo,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
father appeals the juvenile court's termination of his
parental rights. He claims the State has failed to prove two
of the grounds for termination and a guardianship would be in
the child's best interest rather than termination of his
parental rights. We affirm the juvenile court.
Background Facts & Proceedings
father, and A.S., mother, are the parents of T.H., born in
2017. At that time, the father was nineteen years old and the
mother was fifteen years old. The child was born over two
months early and tested positive for marijuana at birth. On
August 1, 2017, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
removed the child when both parents incurred criminal
charges. On August 30, the child was adjudicated in
need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.2(6)(c)(2), (n), and (o) (2017). After a brief
foster-home placement, the child was placed with the
father's aunt and grandmother.
father completed a required substance-abuse evaluation in
August but failed to complete recommended counseling and drug
testing. The parents were allowed daily supervised
interactions with the child. Initially, the parents did not
consistently attend State-supervised visitation with the
child and would visit the child approximately twice a week
supervised by family members. In December, the father was
arrested on additional charges. After his release in March
2018, the father attended visitation more consistently, but
attendance decreased over time. The father did not comply
with substance-abuse or mental-health programming
February 2018, the court granted a six-month extension to the
parents to achieve reunification, and a three-month extension
in May despite inconsistent cooperation by the parents. In
July, the father was re-arrested, then began his term of
incarceration for his 2017 offenses.
September 4, 2018, the State filed a petition to terminate
both parents' rights. The court held a hearing on
November 5 and the father testified via telephone. The father
requested a guardianship for the child with the paternal
aunt, stating he wanted another chance to prove he could be a
good father to the child. DHS, the aunt, and the guardian ad
litem all requested the father's rights be terminated and
the aunt would adopt the child. All parties testified the
aunt would allow the father to be in the child's life if
he was doing well after his release from prison.
from the bench at the hearing, the court noted the father has
never been the primary caregiver and a guardianship would not
be fair to the child or the family members who have been
raising the child. The court's order terminated the
father's parental rights ...