IN THE INTEREST OF A.C., Minor Child, C.H., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L.
Block, Associate Juvenile Judge.
father appeals the termination of parental rights to his
G. Martin, Cedar Falls, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ellen Ramsey-Kacena,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Banning of the Juvenile Public Defender Office, Waterloo,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.
the father, appeals the termination of his parental rights to
A.C., born in October 2017. The Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) removed the child from the parents' care
shortly after birth because of concerns over the mother's
mental health and substance abuse. DHS placed the child with
the maternal great-grandmother after removal. No parent ever
time of A.C.'s birth, the father was not in a
relationship with the mother and not involved with the child.
The mother told him he was the father soon after birth, but
then she quickly asserted another man was the father. He
complains he was unaware he was the father until several
months after the birth. Yet in a separate proceeding to
establish paternity and support, the sheriff's office
certified they personally served C.H. in April 2018 with
notice alleging he was the father. Although he failed to
participate, the court found C.H. to be the father and
withheld his income for A.C.'s support. He testified his
brother signed for the notice and he never received it, and
he believed the child support withheld from his income was
for another child of his.
little progress from the mother, in June 2018 the State filed
the petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother
and C.H. On July 27, C.H. was arrested for burglary and
possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. He testified he
learned about the termination proceeding naming him as the
father while in jail following this arrest. On October 22,
the juvenile court held a hearing on the matter, and the
father participated while in jail on the pending charges. The
court continued the hearing for the parents to conduct
paternity testing. Later that day, C.H. pleaded guilty to
second-degree burglary and the two possession charges, and
the criminal court imposed a suspended prison sentence and
testing confirmed C.H. as the father, the termination hearing
resumed on January 30, 2019. The juvenile court deferred
permanency for both parents, ordered supervised visitation,
and required mental-health and substance-abuse evaluations
and other conditions:
That during the next five months the parents would comply
with all recommendations for substance abuse and mental
health counseling, provide random drug tests as requested,
regularly attend all scheduled visitations and take all
prescribed medications. Further, the parents shall
demonstrate an ability to maintain safe and stable housing
for the child to return, maintain employment and follow
through with services being offered. Both parents shall
participate in parent education programming. Both parents
shall not use illegal substances.
by some positive developments, on June 4 the juvenile court
again deferred permanency to allow a trial home placement
with the father. But on June 21, when he provided a urine
sample as a condition of his probation, he tested positive
for amphetamines and methamphetamine. Two days later, he
provided a urine sample to DHS at his request, which tested
negative. Because of the positive test and a required return
to the residential facility for violating probation, DHS
ended the trial home placement and returned the child to the
great-grandmother's care. On August 15, the juvenile
court concluded the termination hearing. The court issued its
September 18 order terminating the rights of both
father now appeals the termination of his parental rights. We
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
In re L.T., 924 N.W.2d 521, 526 (Iowa 2019). We give
weight to the juvenile court's factual findings, but they
do not bind us. In re M.D., 921 N.W.2d 229, ...