IN THE INTEREST OF T.B. and A.B., Minor Children,
S., Mother, Appellant. C.B., Father, Appellant,
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt,
District Associate Judge.
father and a mother separately appeal the termination of
their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.
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.
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.
father 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.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
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).
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.
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.
December 2017, the mother was admitted to a treatment
facility but was discharged the next day.
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.
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.
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
status conference hearing was held on April 3, at which the
parties agreed to continue the termination-of-parental-rights
hearing until April 24.
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.
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 ...