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In re A.Z.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.Z., Minor Child, J.G., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D. Belcher, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. AFFIRMED.

          Ryan R. Gravett of Gravett Law Firm, Urbandale, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Erin Mayfield of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, challenging the evidence concerning the grounds for termination and the finding that termination is in the child's best interests. We review his claims de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         The child was born in 2011 and was removed from the mother's care in February 2017 because of the mother's substance abuse. The father also has a history of substance abuse. The following month, the juvenile court adjudicated the child to be in need of assistance.

         In the year following the child's removal from the home, the father made some progress in completing the case plan, and the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) recommended the father be provided an additional six months of services to work toward reunification with the child. Noting that the father had completed outpatient treatment, was engaging in counseling and continuing care, had secured housing, and was attending visits with the child, the juvenile court granted the father an additional six months to work toward reunification. The court outlined the necessary criteria for having the child returned to his care within that period, which included continued engagement in services, visiting the child, demonstrating sobriety and the ability to meet the child's needs, and completing substance-abuse treatment and following recommendations, including therapy. Unfortunately, the father did not continue to make progress as had been hoped. His visits with the child became "sporadic." The father relapsed and used methamphetamine in June 2018. At a hearing in July, the DHS worker noticed that the father had lost a significant amount of weight and had open sores on his face. The father lost his job at the end of July and admitted to using methamphetamine around that time.

         The State filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights on July 31, 2018. The father admitted to using methamphetamine the day before the September 2018 termination hearing. At the time of the hearing, the father had not attended therapy in a month and was not taking his prescribed medication. When asked to describe the father's involvement throughout the history of the case, the DHS worker testified:

I'd say it's pretty sporadic. He has two/three months where he does really well, he attends visits, therapy appointments; and then he has a couple of months when he kind of falls off track, and he relapses; and then we go through a kind of a cycle over and over again.

         In a November 2018 order, the juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) and (l) (2018).

         On appeal, the father first contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. Although the father challenges the grounds for termination pursuant to paragraph (f), he does not address the termination of his parental rights under paragraph (l). His failure to make any argument concerning the termination of his parental rights under section 232.116(1)(l) waives a challenge to termination under this paragraph. See In reD.S., 563 N.W.2d 12, 15 (Iowa Ct. App. 1997). We need only find termination proper on one ground to affirm. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010). Accordingly, we may affirm the termination of the father's parental rights under section ...


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