IN THE INTEREST OF R.R. and B.V., Minor Children, R.V., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Rose Anne
Mefford, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
Michael S. Fisher, Oskaloosa, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ellen Ramsey-Kacena,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Patrick Mahaffey, Montezuma, attorney and guardian ad litem
for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., May, J., and Vogel, S.J.
father asserts the termination of his parental rights to his
two children is not in their best interests. Because the
father has been incarcerated since 2016 with a release date
no earlier than January 2021 and has maintained no
relationship with the children since his incarceration, we
find termination is in the children's best interests and
born in 2010, and B.V., born in 2014, were removed from the
care of their mother in July 2018 because of the mother's
drug use. Since that time, the children have been in
the care of their maternal grandmother. They were adjudicated
in need of assistance in August 2018. Although the father has
been under a criminal no-contact order as to the children
since 2016, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
attempted to secure his release of information in order to
proceed with whatever services would be available. After an
initial reply letter to DHS, the father failed to comply with
DHS's request. The DHS worker testified she sent another
letter to the father but he did not respond. She further
testified she attempted several telephone calls to the
penitentiary but was not able to speak with the father. The
father blamed his lack of response on being
"segregated" from the prison community on occasion
and unable to participate in telephone calls.
termination of parental rights petition came on for hearing
on October 22, 2019, more than fifteen months after the
children's removal. The juvenile court terminated the
father's parental rights under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(e), (f), and (l) (2019). We review
termination proceedings de novo. In re P.L., 778
N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010).
father does not dispute the State proved the statutory
grounds for termination. Instead, he seeks a reversal of the
court's order by asserting termination is not in the
children's best interests, as required under section
232.116(2). He argues the children should wait for
permanency while he acquires new skills, undergoes
rehabilitation, and earns release from prison. However, he
has not participated in parenting classes or substance-abuse
treatment offered at the penitentiary. He also admitted at
the termination hearing that he was currently in
administrative segregation because of his defiant behavior,
including creating a disturbance and committing a minor
assault on a correctional officer. Thus far, his efforts at
rehabilitation have been minimal.
due to his own actions, the father has had no contact with
the children since 2016. He remains subject to the no-contact
order, which currently extends until June 2021. The children
need permanency and "simply cannot wait for responsible
parenting." In re L.L., 459 N.W.2d 489, 495
affirm the termination of the ...