IN THE INTEREST OF P.M., B.M., and L.M., Minor Children, J.M and H.M., Guardians, Petitioners-Appellees, J.M., Father, Respondent-Appellant, H.R., Mother, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Amy L.
appeal the termination of their parental rights to their
three minor children under Iowa Code chapter 600A (2018).
D. Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, for appellant father.
R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, PLLC, Glenwood, for appellant
Katherine Kaminsky Murphy of Kate Murphy Law, P.L.C.,
Glenwood, for appellees.
A. Tackett of Tackett Law Offices, Glenwood, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.
Joshua and Hanna each appeal the termination of their
parental rights to their three minor children, P.M., B.M.,
and L.M. The district court granted the guardians'
petition to terminate both parents' rights under Iowa
Code section 600A.8(3)(b) (2018). Both parents argue
insufficient evidence supported a finding that they abandoned
the children and termination of their parental rights is not
in the children's best interest. We affirm the district
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Hanna are the biological parents of P.M., B.M., and L.M.,
who, at the time of the termination hearing, were twelve,
eight, and nine years old, respectively. All three children
have been in the guardianship of their paternal grandparents,
Janette and Harry, since March 2011. P.M. lived with the
guardians part time from November 2007 to August 2009, and
then full time from August 2009 until March 2011. B.M. and
L.M. lived with Joshua and Hanna until Janette and Harry
became their guardians.
and Hanna tried to terminate the guardianships twice,
although the second petition to terminate the guardianships
was continued multiple times and neither parent had asked for
a hearing on it by the day of the termination hearing. In the
August 2013 order denying the first petition to terminate
guardianship, the district court noted visits between Joshua,
Hannah, and the children had been stopped pursuant to a
Department of Human Services (DHS) recommendation because of
allegations of methamphetamine use by the parents. The court
also noted the parents had not "consistently attended
the counseling and medical care visits of the children,"
cooperated with the DHS investigation of the allegations of
drug use by the parents, or "kept the guardians updated
as to their living arrangements and home address as well as
work address," as required by a prior order. The court
directed the parents to keep the guardians informed of their
contact information, provide documentation of living
arrangements and proof of clean drug tests to the court, and
attend supervised therapy sessions with the children's
parents did not comply with the court's order. They never
gave the guardians their contact information, although
Janette got Joshua's phone number from her phone when he
contacted her in early 2018. At the August 2018 termination
hearing, the counselor with whom the supervised visits were
supposed to take place testified that the visits never
occurred. The parents had scheduled one visit in October
2015, but the visit was later cancelled. At the termination
hearing, the parents produced an unsigned copy of a lease
beginning in August 2018. The parents also produced clean
drug test results, but the drug tests they had taken were not
the hair follicle tests specifically required by the court in
the August 2013 order.
for two instances, the parents did not have any contact with
the children between August 2013 and August 2018. The first
occasion was a chance encounter at a restaurant in 2015, and
the second instance was contact with P.M. through Facebook
starting in December 2017 and ending in January 2018. Neither
contact was supervised by the ...