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In re R.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF R.A., Minor Child, A.G., Mother, Appellant, B.O., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Jason A. Burns, District Associate Judge.

         The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child.

          Robin L. Miller, Cedar Rapids, for appellant mother.

          Don W. Schroeder, Iowa City, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until withdrawal) and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          Anthony A. Haughton of Linn County Advocate, Inc., Cedar Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Greer, J., and Blane, S.J. [*]

          BLANE, Senior Judge.

         The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child, R.A. Neither contests the juvenile court's determination that the statutory grounds for termination were met, the best interests of the child support termination, and no permissive factor to save the parent-child relationship applies. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1), (2), (3) (2019). Both parents challenge whether the juvenile court had subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the child in need of assistance (CINA) and ultimately terminate their parental rights.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         R.A. was born in 2010 in the state of New York. The mother, father, and R.A. remained in New York for a short while. New York's Child Protective Services became involved with the family in June 2011 and allegations were substantiated for maltreatment based on specific and repeated incidents of violence between R.A.'s parents in the presence of R.A. The father was detained and eventually deported to his home country of Ghana.

         Sometime in 2012, R.A. and her mother moved to Hawaii. In the fall of 2012, Hawaii entered a divorce decree, ending the marriage of R.A.'s mother and father and giving the mother physical care of R.A.

         Then, in 2013, Hawaii opened a child-welfare case involving R.A. and her mother.[1] R.A. was in foster care for a little over a year and remained under the jurisdiction of Hawaii's family court until April 2017, when the case was dismissed because the mother had fled the jurisdiction-where she had outstanding warrants for her arrest-and R.A. was no longer in the state.

         From June 2015 until June 2017, R.A. lived with her father in Ghana. R.A. has reported she was physically abused by her father during this time. As far as we are aware, ...


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