IN THE INTEREST OF T.M., Minor Child, C.M., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Lynn Poschner,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
Shireen L. Carter of Shireen Carter Law Office, PLC, Norwalk,
for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kimberly Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
father appeals a juvenile court order terminating his
parental rights. The father claims the State did not prove a
ground for termination, an exception to termination under
Iowa Code section 232.116(3) (2018) applies, and termination
is not in the child's best interest. We find the State
established a ground for termination by clear and convincing
evidence, no exception to termination applies, and
termination is in the child's best interest.
Background Facts & Proceedings
the father of T.M., born in 2010. On April 25, 2018, T.M. was
removed from the father's care due to the father's
substance abuse while caring for the child. The child had
been removed twice before and was adjudicated a child in need
of assistance (CINA) from 2011-2013 and 2016-2017. Each time,
the father participated in treatment programs and T.M. was
returned to his care. The father's rights were terminated
to a child before T.M. was born and another child was placed
with the child's mother in a different state during the
2016 CINA case.
father relapsed on methamphetamine in the summer of 2017
shortly after the second CINA case concluded and continued
using illegal substances through the time of removal. In
November 2017, the father placed the child in the care of an
ex-paramour, the mother of one of T.M.'s younger
siblings. In early April 2018, the father moved T.M. to the
care of a cousin who had been a placement for T.M. in 2016.
On May 23, the father stipulated to a CINA adjudication and
placement of the child with the cousin.
2018, the father admitted to using methamphetamine and
marijuana multiple times a day as well as the occasional use
of cocaine since July 2017. At hearings in May, June, and
September, the father reported ceasing use of illegal
substances, recently completing substance-abuse evaluations,
and making plans to enter treatment. He never took any action
to begin a substance-abuse-treatment program, refused drug
testing in September, and did not engage in recommended
September, the father's current paramour and their new
baby both tested positive for opiates. The baby and the
paramour's older child were removed from the home due to
the substance abuse of both parents. The father and his
paramour attempted to sign up for outpatient treatment on
December 4, but current evaluations had not been provided to
the treatment center.
court held a termination hearing on December 5. The court
heard testimony from the father and the social worker. At the
hearing, the father testified he had not been using drugs at
the time of the removal and lied on his evaluations to get
into treatment. He repeatedly said he was unsure of the last
day he used any illegal substance. The father demonstrated a
lack of awareness of the effects of his drug usage resulting
in removal; he claimed he has not put the child in danger and
has been a positive parent while using drugs. He testified he
was now willing to participate in the requested services
because he realized the child might not return to his care.
The social worker, who had worked with the family through the
2016-2017 CINA case as well, testified the father's
actions showed an unwillingness to make permanent changes and