IN THE INTEREST OF D.G. and G.G., Minor Children, L.H., Mother, Appellant, J.G., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Amy L.
Zacharias, District Associate Judge.
separately appeal from the termination of their parental
rights to two of their children.
Kenneth Whitacre, Glenwood, for appellant mother. Justin R.
Wyatt, Glenwood, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
R. Danley, Sidney, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield,
separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to
the youngest two of their five children, born in 2015 and
Background Facts and Proceedings
department of human services intervened in 2015, following
the birth of the parents' fourth child. The department
instituted a safety plan based on concerns of drug use by the
mother. The fourth child stayed with relatives for
approximately two months, then was formally removed from the
parents' care in a separate proceeding. He was ultimately
reunited with his parents, and the district court closed the
than one year later, the youngest child was born with
marijuana in his system. The State filed a petition to have
all five children adjudicated in need of assistance.
date of the scheduled adjudicatory hearing, the department
drug-tested the parents and found they had methamphetamine in
their systems. The district court granted the adjudication
petition and ordered the children removed from parental care.
The department placed the older three children with their
maternal grandmother. The youngest two children, who are the
subject of this appeal, ended up with their maternal
parents continued to test positive for methamphetamine and
marijuana for several months, but, in time, their drug use
declined. Beginning four months before the termination
hearing, they tested negative for methamphetamine. Although
the father tested positive for marijuana after that date, a
hair test administered in the month preceding the termination
hearing tested negative for all substances, and the father
testified he stopped using marijuana. The mother equivocated
on whether she curtailed use of the drug. But the department
caseworker agreed the department typically does not remove
children for marijuana use by the parents. Both parents
attended substance-abuse counseling and participated in other
services designed to address their substance abuse. They also
participated in several weekly visits with their children.
the State recommended against termination of parental rights
to the older three children but petitioned to terminate
parental rights to the youngest two children. Following a
two-day termination hearing, the district court granted the
termination petition pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(e) and (h) (allowing the court to terminate
parental rights where there is an absence of significant and