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In re B.P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF B.P., Minor Child, K.D., Mother, Appellant, J.M., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L. Block, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A father and mother appeal separately from the juvenile court order terminating their parental rights.

          Michael Lanigan, Waterloo, for appellant mother.

          Joseph G. Martin.Cedar Falls, for appellant father.

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

          Mark Milder, Waverly, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A father, James, and a mother, Karmen, separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their eight-year-old child, B.P. They both contend rather than terminating their rights, the juvenile court should have established a guardianship with B.P.'s current placement, his maternal aunt. Karmen further contends the State did not offer clear and convincing evidence she was "unable to care for the child." After an independent review, [1] we reach the same conclusions as the juvenile court: terminating parental rights is proper and establishing a guardianship is not the preferred outcome for B.P.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         B.P. came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) three years ago because of Karmen's methamphetamine use and the domestic violence he witnessed in his home. At that time, B.P. lived with his mother, Karmen; his stepfather, David; and his older half-sister, T.D. The juvenile court approved removal of both children in April 2016.

         B.P.'s biological father, James, has had only sporadic contact with him since his birth in 2011. James has not seen B.P. since February 2016. James also has a significant history of substance abuse and a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for domestic-abuse assault.

         Following DHS intervention, James and Karmen failed to comply with the court's expectations regarding their substance-abuse testing and treatment. Karmen missed or refused many drug tests. James did not have stable housing or employment and was incarcerated for thirteen months during these proceedings. At the termination hearing, the DHS worker testified B.P. has little or no bond with James. The DHS worker also testified B.P. displays concerning behavioral issues-including excessive aggression-attributable to the instability of his parents and home life.

         Early in the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings, the DHS placed B.P. and T.D. with David. But the court ordered B.P.'s removal from that home due to domestic violence. After a short stint with a foster family, B.P. was placed in the care of his maternal aunt, Brandy, who lives in South Carolina. T.D.- who is three years older than B.P.-remained in Iowa. The siblings' separation has been difficult ...


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