IN THE INTEREST OF D.S., Minor Child, H.S., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Rose Anne
Mefford, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to one
S. Small of McKelvie Law Office, Grinnell, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
White of White Law Office, Sigourney, guardian ad litem for
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
father, Henry, appeals the termination of his parental rights
to D.S., his one-year-old son. Henry does not contest the
statutory grounds supporting termination. He contends only
that termination is not in D.S.'s best interests. Because
clear and convincing evidence backs the juvenile court's
conclusion that adoption is the better permanency outcome for
D.S., we affirm.
September 2017-when D.S. was just three weeks old-his mother,
Cassandra, overdosed on prescription pain medications. The
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed D.S. from
Cassandra's care and placed the infant with Henry. With
the consent of both parents, the juvenile court adjudicated
D.S. as a child in need of assistance (CINA).
placement with Henry was short-lived. Only a month after
assuming care of his son, Henry attacked and strangled
Cassandra in the presence of D.S. Henry received suspended
sentences for domestic abuse impeding air or blood flow
causing bodily injury and child endangerment. The juvenile
court ordered removal of D.S. from Henry's care in
October 2017, and D.S. has since been in foster care.
no-contact order resulting from his strangulation offense
prohibited Henry from interacting with Cassandra throughout
the CINA case. The child- endangerment offense likewise
resulted in a no-contact order between Henry and D.S., which
authorities modified to allow contact during supervised and
semi-supervised visitations. The court also ordered Henry to
attend Iowa Domestic Abuse Program classes. He did not begin
the twenty-four week program until three weeks before the
December 2017 dispositional order, the juvenile court ordered
Henry to complete a mental health evaluation and follow
through with all the recommendations; comply with the
no-contact orders; submit to drug testing; participate in
Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) services; and
attend visitation with D.S. Henry obtained a mental-health
evaluation and received a recommendation for outpatient
therapy to manage his anger. Henry attended some counseling
but stopped after a few months; he obtained a second
evaluation just a few days before the termination hearing,
leaving a gap of several months.
March 2018, Henry appeared to be making progress, so DHS
allowed him semi-supervised visitations with D.S. When the
DHS worker confronted him with reports alleging he was
contacting Cassandra in violation of the court order, Henry
denied the allegations. But several days later, police
stopped his car and found Cassandra in the passenger seat, so
they arrested Henry for violating the no-contact order and
driving while suspended. Three days later, police again
arrested Henry for violating the no-contact order. Cassandra
called police when Henry came to her mother's house,
where she was living, and acted aggressively. When police
arrived, Henry fled out a window carrying Cassandra's
medications with him.
2018, Cassandra reported Henry came to the house again and
entered without permission, demanding she return some
property of his and refusing to leave. He then threatened
Cassandra's mother. Cassandra also believed Henry had
been "stalking" her. Police arrested Henry for a
third violation of the no-contact order. Although he largely
denied the violations, the criminal court sentenced Henry to
serve thirty hours in jail for the first two violations. The
DHS returned Henry to supervised ...