IN THE INTEREST OF A.D., Minor Child, R.D., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Korie Shippee,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
E. Dusthimer, Davenport, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until
withdrawal) and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General,
for appellee State.
Matthew D. Hatch, Bettendorf, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and Greer, JJ.
appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
daughter A.D. The juvenile court terminated the
father's rights under Iowa Code sections 232.116(1)(b),
(e), (g), (h), and (1) (2019). To challenge that ruling, the
father maintains termination is not in the child's best
interests under any of the statutory grounds, and because of
his incarceration and his attempted commitment to A.D.,
reunifications efforts must continue.
Facts and Prior Proceedings.
midst of termination proceedings related to her older
siblings, A.D. was born in July 2018. She tested positive for
benzodiazepines at birth. The father was incarcerated at this
time,  and he has remained incarcerated in some
Iowa penal institution-jail or prison-throughout these
their inability to provide care, these parents arranged for
A.D.'s paternal aunt and uncle to temporarily act as
caregivers upon the child's discharge from the hospital,
and A.D. continued to reside with the aunt and uncle through
the time of termination.
October 31, 2018, the court adjudicated A.D. a child in need
of assistance (CINA). After the CINA adjudication, A.D. began
weekly visitation with the father via video at the jail.
After terminating the rights of the older children, the State
moved to waive its obligation to make reasonable efforts to
reunite A.D. with the parents. Even before the ruling on
reasonable-efforts-to-reunite issue, in February 2019, the
jail staff suspended the father's visitation privileges
for fighting in jail. With a history of lack of effort by the
parents, in March, the court waived the reasonable-efforts
requirement, citing the parents' minimal participation in
the services the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) had
continually offered to them since January 2017 with regard to
A.D. and her three older siblings. Next, the State petitioned
to terminate the rights of both parents. On July 11, the
court held a termination hearing, in which the father
participated via telephone from an Iowa correctional
facility. Although services ceased before the time
of the hearing, he requested services upon his release from
prison on parole, which he expected to occur in nineteen to
twenty weeks. On July 16, the court issued its order
terminating the parental rights of the mother and father.
Scope of Review.
review of termination cases is de novo. In re L.G.,
532 N.W.2d 478, 480 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995). The first step is
for the court to determine whether a ground for termination
exists under Iowa Code section 232.116(1). In re
P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010). "If a ground
exists, the court may terminate a parent's parental
rights." Id. In determining whether to
terminate, "the court shall give primary consideration
to the child's safety, to the best placement for
furthering the long-term nurturing and growth of the child,
and to the physical, mental, and emotional condition and
needs of the child." Id. (quoting Iowa Code
§ 232.116(2)). The judge's decision should contain