IN THE INTEREST OF A.R. and S.R., Minor Children, J.R., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L.
Block, Associate Juvenile Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
two children. AFFIRMED.
L. Schroeder of The Sayer Law Group, P.C., Waterloo, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Banning of Juvenile Public Defender's Office,
Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Greer, JJ.
father, Jeremy, appeals the termination of his parental
rights to his two children, A.R. born in 2007, and S.R., born
in 2011. The juvenile court terminated Jeremy's
parental rights to both children under Iowa Code section
232.116(1) (2019), paragraphs (e), (f), (j), and
(l). Jeremy does not dispute the statutory grounds
for termination. Instead, he maintains termination of his
parental rights is not in the children's best interests.
See Iowa Code § 232.116(2). He also relies on
the closeness of his bond with A.R. and S.R. to argue the
juvenile court should have placed the children in a
guardianship with their maternal grandmother rather than
terminate his parental rights. See id. §
arguments did not dissuade the juvenile court from
terminating. It reasoned: "Permanency through an
adoptive placement is clearly in the children's best
interests." After our independent review of the record,
we reach the same conclusion as the juvenile
Jeremy's concession of the statutory grounds for
termination, we start our analysis with the best-interests
question. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa
2010) ("Because the father does not dispute the
existence of the grounds, we do not have to discuss this
step."). In doing so, we give primary consideration to
the children's safety, to the best placement for
furthering their long-term nurturing and growth; and to their
physical, mental, and emotional condition and needs. Iowa
Code § 232.116(2).
methamphetamine abuse and dealing has long been an issue for
the family. Because of that drug exposure, as well as
domestic violence, the Iowa Department of Human Services
(DHS) removed the children from their home in December 2012
through January 2014. The children's second removal-which
led to these termination proceedings-took place in February
2018. The primary danger again was Jeremy's
involvement with methamphetamine. Following the
children's removal, the State convicted Jeremy of
possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He
received an indeterminate prison sentence of twenty-five
years in prison.
years between the children's two removals, they were
present in the home while their father perpetrated domestic
violence against their mother and then their step-mother,
their mother overdosed and ultimately died, and the police
conducted a drug raid. After their second removal, the
children reported having often gone without food while in
Jeremy's care. They also recalled a turbulent household,
where Jeremy would break televisions, phones, plates, and
cupboards. The children would cower in their bedroom when
their father was acting violently.
having inflicted that trauma, Jeremy refused to allow the
children to participate in counseling while in his custody.
Only after they entered their grandmother's care did they
his own mental health, Jeremy did not engage in therapy or
drug treatment between the second removal and his
arrest. Neither was he participating in
substance-abuse or mental-health programming while in prison.
Jeremy's incarceration, the DHS has facilitated
visitation with the children. When the Department of
Corrections placed him at Clarinda, the visits were by Skype
technology. When Jeremy moved to Anamosa, the children
started to visit twice a month in person. As she has learned
about her father's situation, eleven-year-old A.R. has
been more vocal about her frustrations with him being
unavailable because of his "bad choices." But the
DHS worker acknowledged both children ...