IN THE INTEREST OF D.S. and B.S., Minor Children, M.D., Mother, Appellant, D.S., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County,
Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.
parents of two minor children separately appeal the
termination of their parental rights.
Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender Office, Council
Bluffs, for appellant mother.
E. Benson of Benson Law, P.C., Council Bluffs, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
C. Goaley, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.
father and mother of two children, born in 2016 and 2017,
separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.
Both challenge the grounds for termination and argue
termination was not in the children's best interests. The
father also argues the department of human services failed to
make reasonable efforts to reunify him with the children.
Grounds for Termination
district court terminated parental rights pursuant to several
statutory provisions. We may affirm if we find clear and
convincing evidence to support any of the grounds. In re
S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999). We focus
on Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018), which requires
proof of several elements, including proof the children
cannot be returned to the parents' custody.
department became involved with the family based on a
complaint that the children were dirty and "had lice
treatment running down their faces" when they were left
with a babysitter. Two days after the first complaint, the
department learned the parents were evicted from their home
and left their children with a friend. The friend reported
marks on them.
district court removed the children from the parents'
custody. The department initiated services to facilitate
reunification, including twice-weekly supervised visits with
the children. The court subsequently adjudicated the children
in need of assistance. The children remained out of parental
custody throughout the proceedings.
father used illegal drugs and exhibited paranoid behaviors.
At the termination hearing, the father's mother testified
he was in an inpatient recovery program and would likely
remain there for thirty to forty-five days. An employee of
the recovery center testified the father was actively
participating in the "dual diagnosis" treatment
program for substance-abuse and mental-health concerns but he
only began inpatient treatment the day before the termination
hearing. Although he had not used illegal drugs for two
months and his mental-health condition improved with
medication, the father was not ...