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In re T.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF T.W. and J.W., Minor Children, S.B., Mother, Appellant, J.W., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Susan F. Flaherty, Associate Juvenile Judge.

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

          Jeannine L. Roberts, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Mark D. Fisher of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, for Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly A. Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Tabor, J., and Gamble, S.J. [*]

          GAMBLE, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A father and a mother separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights to T.W., born in February 2013, and J.W., born in February 2015 one-and-a-half months prematurely. In a well-documented and detailed order, including findings that the father and mother lacked credibility, the juvenile court terminated parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2018) (as to T.W.), (g) (as to both children), and (h) (as to J.W.).[1]

         On appeal, the mother argues the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with her children. She acknowledges a long struggle with sobriety but asserts she should be granted an additional six months in light of her ninety-day sobriety and recent re-engagement with services. The father contends the children could be returned to his care at present and that termination is not in the children's best interests. He also argues the court erred in considering anonymous hearsay statements made to an investigator and in denying him a new trial.

         On our de novo review, see In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018), we find clear and convincing evidence supports termination of both parents' rights, and termination and adoption will best provide the children with much needed permanence. We therefore affirm.

         We will not reiterate the lengthy history of these proceedings-the juvenile court has done so. Suffice it to say, the mother has a lengthy criminal history; has been diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety, and attention-deficit disorders; and has a significant history of substance abuse. She has had nine children, none of whom are in her care. She has been involved with the department of human services (DHS) for many years. The father has seven children, none of whom are in his care. He has a lengthy history of domestic violence-involving the mother and other partners. He, too, has been known to DHS for many years. Numerous child-abuse assessments involve these two parents.

         The mother and father have had four children together. Their rights to two older children were terminated in January 2012 due to the mother not following through with substance-abuse treatment, the father's untreated anger issues, and dishonesty by both parents impeding the service provider's efforts.

         The parents' third child, T.W., was adjudicated a CINA on April 10, 2013, and J.W. was ...


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