IN THE INTEREST OF R.F., I.F., and A.F. Minor Children, S.F., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
Christina M. Shriver, Waterloo, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Melissa A. Anderson-Seeber of Juvenile Public Defender's
Office, Waterloo, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
three minor children, R.F., born in 2016; I.F., born in 2017;
and A.F., born in 2018. The mother argues the State did not
make reasonable efforts at reunification and challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence underlying the statutory grounds
for termination cited by the juvenile court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
August 2017, I.F. presented to the emergency room with a
broken shoulder bone that was sustained while she was being
supervised by the father; the mother was at work at the time.
In September, the parents presented to the emergency room
with both R.F. and I.F. relative to scabies and scalp
lesions. At the time, I.F. was also experiencing issues with
her leg. It was determined I.F. had a broken femur, which
occurred weeks earlier. The parents were unable to explain
the injuries. A doctor determined the injuries were likely
related to abuse. The father acknowledged caring for the
children while intoxicated and ultimately admitted to
inflicting the injuries to I.F. The parents agreed to a
safety plan that called for placement of the children with
the paternal grandmother, prohibited unsupervised contact
between the parents and children pending a child-abuse
investigation, and required the parents to cooperate with the
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). The State filed
child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petitions as to both
children. The father was arrested on a charge of child
endangerment resulting in serious injury and a no-contact
order was entered between the father and I.F. The children
were adjudicated CINA in October and formally removed from
the parents' care. The court ordered that the father have
no contact with the children. The primary concerns in this
case were the father's alcohol abuse and mental-health
and anger issues and the mother's inability to detach
herself and the children from the father.
father was eventually released from jail. By December, the
mother had participated in a psychological evaluation and
began attending individual therapy. However, concerns were
still looming that the mother would allow the father around
the children, as the parents continued to have frequent
contact with one another. Over the course of the next several
months, the mother made significant strides in several areas
and progressed to unsupervised visitation with the children,
including overnights. Yet, she continued to indicate her
intention of remaining in a relationship with the father,
whose lack of engagement in services was concerning, and an
inability to recognize the danger the father posed to the
2018, the court granted DHS's request for deferral of
permanency for an additional six months to allow the father
to engage in services and the mother to better understand the
risks the father poses to the children. However, in August,
the parents and children were found together in a car during
one of the mother's unsupervised overnight visits. Both
parents were arrested. The mother's visitation reverted
to fully supervised. A.F. was born to the parents in
September. A.F. was immediately removed from the parents'
care. A.F. was adjudicated a CINA in December.
mother was advised her continuing relationship with the
father negated her ability to have the children returned to
her care. In December, the mother began reporting she ended
her relationship with the father. The court and DHS found the
mother's reports lacking in candor. By January 2019, the
court, upon DHS's recommendation, directed the State to
initiate termination proceedings for the purpose of
determining whether the mother would finally be able to put
the children over her relationship with the father. The
mother's visitation progressed to semi-supervised.
However, her visitation reverted to fully supervised in March
when she was observed dropping the father off at work.
a termination hearing over two days in April, the court
terminated the mother's parental rights under Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(d) ...