IN THE INTEREST OF A.C. and P.C., Minor Children, N.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Jason A.
Burns, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.
M. Van Daele of Van Daele Law, LLC, North Liberty, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Anthony A. Haughton of Linn County Advocate, Inc., Cedar
Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Vogel,
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
two daughters, A.C., born 2007, and P.C., born 2011. Because
of the mother's cognitive and physical disabilities, she
is unable to care for herself or for her children. The
juvenile court found, and we agree, termination of the
mother's parental rights is in the best interests of the
children. We therefore affirm.
family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) in March 2018, when the mother's physical
condition made it difficult for her to tend to the
children's daily care. The mother has been diagnosed with
Huntington's disease, which affects both physical and
cognitive function. The children were removed and placed with
their paternal aunt and uncle, where they had frequently
stayed in the past; they have remained in the same home
throughout these proceedings. The mother stipulated the
children were in need of assistance, and the family began
receiving services. Although the mother's substance use
was a concern, the primary focus of services was on managing
the mother's medical condition. With the mother's
physical and mental function in decline while the
children's need for care and stability increased, a
petition for termination of the mother's parental rights
came on for hearing in June 2019. After receiving evidence,
including expert medical testimony and reports, the juvenile
court found the State proved the grounds for termination by
clear and convincing evidence, termination is in the
children's best interests, nothing precluded termination,
and termination was preferred over the establishment of a
guardianship, under our case law and Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f), (2), and (3) (2019). The mother appeals.
review termination proceedings de novo. In re C.B.,
611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000). We are not bound by the
juvenile court's findings of fact, but we give them
weight, especially in assessing the credibility of
witnesses. Id. Concerned that the written
transcript of these proceedings would not accurately convey
the mother's demeanor during her testimony, the juvenile
court directed an auditory recording of her
juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights
under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f), which provides the
court may terminate parental rights if it finds all of the
(1) The child is four years of age or older.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of
assistance pursuant to section 232.96.
(3) The child has been removed from the physical custody of
the child's parents for at least twelve of the last
eighteen months, or for the last twelve consecutive months
and any ...