IN THE INTEREST OF J.C., M.C., and J.C., Minor Children, J.E., Mother, Appellant, C.E., Father of J.C. and M.C., Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Scott
Strait, District Associate Judge.
separately appeal from the termination of their respective
parental rights to their children.
Joseph Narmi, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.
C. Goaley, Council Bluffs, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
D. Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.
juvenile court terminated a mother and father's parental
rights to their children, M.C. and Je.C. The juvenile court
also terminated the mother's parental rights to another
child, Jo.C. On appeal, the mother contends the
juvenile court erred in (1) denying her motion to reopen the
record; (2) finding that statutory grounds for termination
exist; (3) finding that termination is in the children's
best interests; and (4) finding that no exception to
termination applies. The father of M.C. and Je.C. (the
father) contends the juvenile court erred in (1) finding that
statutory grounds for termination exist and (2) finding that
termination is in the children's best interests. We
affirm the juvenile court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
was born in 2004. Twins M.C. and Je.C. were born in 2009.
This family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of
Human Services (DHS) in 2009 because of allegations that the
mother had denied critical care to the
children. DHS determined the allegations were
2013, DHS reported two more founded allegations of child
abuse against the mother. The family voluntarily engaged in
DHS services. In March 2013, law enforcement took the
children into protective custody. In May, the juvenile court
adjudicated each of the children as a child in need of
assistance (CINA). The mother struggled to control her
emotions and react appropriately to stressors. Even so, by
March 2014, M.C. and Je.C. were returned to their
parents' care subject to DHS supervision. Jo.C. was to be
returned to the mother's care by the end of April. In
July, the juvenile court dismissed the CINA proceedings as to
then, in July 2016, the juvenile court again removed the
children from the home following a domestic-violence incident
perpetrated by the mother. The father reported that the
mother struck him with a piece of wood "with nails in
it," struck him a "heavy glass prism," and
stabbed him with a broken snow globe. The father required
three to four medical staples in his head and seven in his
August, the juvenile court adjudicated each of the children
as CINA. The court found "there are concerns of domestic
violence, mental health, and substance abuse" regarding
the mother and father.
mother was placed on probation for assaulting the father. Her
probation was revoked after she tested positive for
methamphetamine. She was in jail from January to June 2017.
June, the juvenile court closed the CINA proceedings. The
court placed M.C. and Je.C. in the father's care. In a
separate proceeding, the district court appointed a guardian
mother returned to jail in August. The father attempted
suicide the same month.
September, DHS became involved with the family again. The
mother remained in jail. The father exhibited signs of
methamphetamine use. He was homeless while caring for the
children. The juvenile court removed M.C. and Je.C. from
their father's care. In October, Jo.C.'s guardian
admitted to methamphetamine use and being homeless. In
November, the court adjudicated all three children as CINA.
February 15 and 26, 2019, the juvenile court held a
termination hearing. On May 5, the mother moved to reopen the
record. She sought leave to submit documentation showing she
completed the Iowa Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP) after the
termination hearing. On May 6, the court denied the motion
and terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2018). The court
also terminated the father's parental rights pursuant to
code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f).
parents appealed. Our supreme court transferred the case to