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In re O.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF O.B., Minor Child, T.B., Mother, Appellant, O.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton Ploof, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights.

          Patricia A. Rolfstad, Davenport, for appellant mother. Brenda Drew-Peeples of Drew-Peeples Law Firm, Davenport, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and John McCormally (until withdrawal), and Anagha Dixit, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          Matthew D. Hatch of Hatch Law Firm, P.C., Bettendorf, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A mother, Takenya, and a father, O.B. Sr., appeal the termination of their parental rights to their two-year-old son, O.B. Jr. Because the parents failed to challenge all the statutory grounds for termination, they have waived those issues on appeal. O.B. Sr. complains the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) did not timely complete a home study for his Illinois residence, but we find the DHS met its reasonable-efforts obligation. We also believe O.B.'s best interests are served by termination of the parents' rights. Accordingly, we affirm the juvenile court order.[1]

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         O.B. Jr. was removed from Takenya's care just shy of his first birthday because her uncontrolled schizophrenia made it impossible for her to care for him safely at that time.[2] Takenya repeatedly sought, but never successfully completed, mental-health treatment. Although the court directed her to an inpatient psychiatric program, Takenya absconded. She did not seriously undertake treatment until six months before trial. Then she participated in an intensive intervention called ACT

          (Assertive Community Treatment) involving a team of professionals including a substance abuse counselor, a social worker, a nurse, and a community worker, who tried to coordinate services and ensure she continued her medication and therapy. Nonetheless, the caseworkers reported Takenya did not accept services beyond medication management and transportation. At the time of the termination hearing, Takenya's mental health remained unstable, and she demonstrated little insight into how to address her psychiatric needs.

         When O.B. Jr. was removed from Takenya's care, O.B. Sr. was homeless and unable to take custody. O.B. Sr. has a history of substance abuse but denies any problem. He did not undergo a substance-abuse evaluation or submit to drug testing as requested. O.B. Sr. told a mental-health evaluator he did not use illegal substances, and when the DHS caseworker asked O.B. Sr. about the truthfulness of those statements, O.B. Sr. insisted "marijuana is not a drug and it is not illegal." The DHS case worker also confronted O.B. Sr. about a video posted online that appeared to show him smoking marijuana and "rapping a song" with derogatory lyrics, including "if someone F-ing messes with my child, I will F-ing mess with you." O.B. Sr. denied both the marijuana use and the threats. He said he was "just venting, like clearing my mind."

         O.B. Sr. did not move into stable housing until several months after the child's placement in foster care. O.B. Sr.'s residence was in East Moline, Illinois.[3] O.B. Sr. attended only half of the offered visitations with O.B. Jr. But when O.B. Sr. did show up, he understood his child's needs; and according to the caseworkers, father and son displayed a strong bond.

         Following the State's petition and a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the parents' rights. The court terminated the mother's rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1), paragraphs (d), (h), and (k) (2018). The court terminated the ...


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