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In re T.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF T.B. and A.B., Minor Children,
v.
S., Mother, Appellant. C.B., Father, Appellant,

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         A father and a mother separately appeal the termination of their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Sarah E. Dewein of Cunningham & Kelso, P.L.L.C., Urbandale, for appellant father. Christine E. Branstad of Branstad & Olson Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Tabor, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A father[1] and a mother separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to two children: A.B., born in August 2010; and T.B., born in January 2015. The parents challenge the findings of the juvenile court that grounds for termination exist, termination is in the children's best interests, and no permissive reason warrants the preservation of parental rights. On our de novo review, we affirm on both appeals.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The family came to the attention of the department of human services (DHS) in January 2017, due to the mother's use of methamphetamine in the residence the parents shared with the children. It was alleged the mother was also selling methamphetamine from her home. On February 16, the children were removed due to domestic violence by the father against the mother, which caused a risk of harm to the children. A domestic-abuse protective order was issued prohibiting the father from contacting the mother. On March 23, the children were adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA).

         On April 12, 2017, the father was arrested for violating the protective order and attempted burglary. The father was incarcerated for the next several months and had little contact with the children.

         The mother entered a residential treatment facility. She was participating in substance-abuse and mental-health services. In October 2017, the juvenile court ordered the children to be returned to the mother's care, but before the children were fully reunified, the mother left the treatment facility. She reported she panicked, struggling with feeling the inability to care for her children. The mother admitted relapsing on methamphetamine.

         In December 2017, the mother was admitted to a treatment facility but was discharged the next day.

         In January 2018, the mother was again admitted to a residential treatment program but was asked to leave for non-compliance after two weeks. The mother has not been consistent with substance-abuse treatment throughout the juvenile proceedings and has failed to take advantage of the services offered.

         The father completed anger-management classes while incarcerated and was released from prison on February 21. A permanency-review hearing was held on February 28 but was continued with the anticipation the State would be filing termination-of-parental-rights petitions as to both children. Termination petitions were filed on March 5.

         After his release from custody, the father obtained a substance-abuse and mental-health evaluation. He also obtained full-time employment, insurance, and was fixing up a residence. The father was participating with DHS services and was engaged with the children. His visits progressed to overnights.

         A status conference hearing was held on April 3, at which the parties agreed to continue the termination-of-parental-rights hearing until April 24.

         In an April 4 permanency order, the court noted the "parents are engaged (now, finally) in [substance-abuse] treatment and working to put themselves in a place of well-being and stability they can be minimally adequate. They are not at this time." The court granted the parents an additional six months to reunify pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.104(2)(b) (2018). The court stated the mother was to stay the course with in-patient treatment and the father was to continue with out-patient treatment. Both parents were to avoid relapse and remain in recovery.

         A June 13 case progress report from the family safety, risk, and permanency services (FSRP) provider noted A.B. was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiance disorder with aggressive behaviors. A.B. and T.B. were both seeing a therapist. The FSRP provider also noted the mother "stopped keeping in contact with FSRP. She missed many visits and it has been said that she possibly has left the state." The father had started overnight visits with the children "but had to stop due to letting [the ...


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