IN THE INTEREST OF J.R., D.R., and H.R., Minor Children, R.J.R., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin Parker,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals a permanency order placing his two children in
a guardianship. AFFIRMED.
D. Lubinus of Lubinus Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kathryn Miller of Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Tabor, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.
father appeals a permanency order placing his two children,
born in 2004 and 2005, in a guardianship. He contends (A)
the record lacks clear and convincing evidence to support the
grounds for a guardianship and a guardianship is not in the
children's best interest; (B) the district court should
not have entered a dispositional order without the benefit of
a social investigation report; (C) his attorney was
ineffective in failing to appeal the dispositional order; and
(D) the district court erred in denying his motion to enlarge
and amend its findings and conclusions.
Background Facts and Proceedings
case began after law enforcement officers visited a home to
conduct a welfare check. They found the house to be
"uninhabitable." According to a report, it
"was in complete disarray and filthy," with
"[t]rash . . . everywhere" and an
"overwhelming," "foul odor," of
"trash, feces, and urine." The toilet
"consisted of a five-gallon pail with a hole in the
lid." The kitchen was filled with "numerous
containers of spoiled food and unknown substances." The
house lacked continuous running water and electricity, which
were dependent on a manually-activated backyard generator.
Following the inspection, law enforcement officers contacted
the department of human services about the children in the
district court ordered the children to be temporarily
removed. They were placed with a relative. The State
subsequently petitioned to have them adjudicated in need of
assistance. At the adjudicatory hearing, the department case
manager testified the mother had "a considerable history
of approximately three years-ish of methamphetamine use"
and the children saw both parents using the drug. The
district court adjudicated the children in need of
later dispositional hearing, the father stipulated to all but
one of the department's recommendations. Specifically,
the father agreed to continued adjudication of the children
as in need of assistance; continued placement of the children
with the relative; and participation in reunification
services including mental health and substance-abuse
counseling, and scheduled visitation, pursuit of sobriety,
and maintenance of an appropriate living environment. He
reserved one issue which, in his view, implicated the
department's obligation to make reasonable reunification
efforts. The district court confirmed the adjudication and
left the children in the relative's care. Following
another hearing, the court rejected the parents'
challenge to the State's reunification efforts. In the
end, the court filed a permanency order transferring custody
and guardianship of the children to the relative. The court
reasoned "the age of the children, bond established, and
potential loss of public benefits and inheritance"
militated in favor of this option rather than termination of
parental rights. The father appealed.