IN THE INTEREST OF U.W., Minor Child, D.W., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Rose Anne
Mefford, District Associate Judge.
Wenke, Ottumwa, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
father appeals from the termination of his parental rights.
White, Sigourney, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
child, U.W., pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and
(l) (2018). He challenges the juvenile court's
findings that the child could not be returned to him at
present or within a reasonable extension of time and that
termination of his parental rights is in the child's best
review termination proceedings de novo. In re A.M.,
843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).
child, born in 2012, has been in parentless limbo since his
removal from his mother's care and custody on March 23,
2017. Moreover, U.W. had been the subject of two
prior child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA)
proceedings and has a desperate need for stability and
certainty, experiencing severe anxiety over inconsistency in
his life. The child is bonded and doing well with his foster
family- the family has indicated their ability and desire to
provide a permanent home for U.W. and his half-sibling, who
is also in their care.
father resided in Illinois at the time U.W. was removed from
his mother's custody. At the March 28, 2017 CINA
adjudication hearing, he expressed the desire to have the
child placed with him. The adjudication order required all
parents to undergo a substance-abuse evaluation. The
department of human services (DHS) began the process to
conduct a home study to determine whether the father would be
an appropriate placement for U.W. The father sent back
necessary paperwork in April. Then, in July 2017, the father
moved to Iowa. The father's residence was
checked on August 30, 2017, and was found to be suitable. He
was asked to complete a substance-abuse evaluation in
August and October of 2017 and again in January
father completed his substance-abuse evaluation in February
2018. He attended and completed outpatient substance-abuse
treatment. On April 30, the father informed the DHS social
worker that he would test positive for marijuana because he
had recently used at a party. He was reminded of the
importance of refraining from drug use. In June, the
father's provider for substance-abuse treatment reported
to DHS the father was actively participating in programming.
Consistency with visits and phone calls between the father
and child remained the focus of concern of the father's
father was allowed overnight visits with the child beginning
June 24, 2018. He was living with his girlfriend and their
child at the time. When the girlfriend gave birth to a second
of the father's children, the child tested positive for
illegal substances. Visits returned to fully supervised when
the father indicated that the girlfriend was providing care
for his children and he could not control what she did while
he was at work. Also in June, the father attended a therapy
session with U.W. The therapist reported concern to DHS
workers because the father had told the child that the father
had completed all he needed to do and now the child had to
display good behaviors so he could return to his father's
care. In a subsequent session, the child repeatedly commented
he had been good and did not understand why his father was
not at the session. The therapist recommend the next visit
between father and child be in a therapeutic setting.
July, the father was discharged as successful by his
substance-abuse treatment provider. On July 13, DHS asked
that the father provide a hair sample for drug analysis. The
father refused to do so. He stated he was no longer residing
with his girlfriend but refused to give DHS the address where
he was residing. At the time of the August 8 termination
hearing, the father expressed frustration with DHS
"because I went to the classes and do all of the extra
stuff and take a UA and you all still don't believe when
I'm saying it's because of what [my girlfriend] did.
You all put it on me like I'm the one who could control a
our de novo review, we find clear and convincing evidence
supports termination of the father's parental rights
under section 232.116(1)(f). There is no question this
six-year-old child has been adjudicated a child in need of
assistance (CINA), has been out of parental custody for at
least the last twelve consecutive months, and cannot be
returned to his father's care at present. At the time of
the termination trial, the father stated he was staying with
his sister and her family but was working toward getting his