IN RE THE INTEREST OF B.K., Minor Child, D.K., Mother, Appellant.
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IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA
No. 5-818 / 05-1513
Filed November 23, 2005
IN RE THE INTEREST OF B.K.,
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Michael R.
Stewart, District Associate Judge.
A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights to
her son. AFFIRMED.
Allen A. Anderson of Spayde, White & Anderson, Oskaloosa, for
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine Miller-Todd, Assistant
Attorney General, Charles A. Stream, County Attorney, and Kim Andeway,
Assistant County Attorney, for appellee-State.
Randy Degeest of the DeGeest Law Office, Oskaloosa, guardian ad litem
for minor child.
Considered by Huitink, P.J., and Mahan and Hecht, JJ.
Donna is the mother of Bryce, who was born in 2004. The family first
came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in
June of 2004 when Bryce was removed and placed in foster care as a
consequence of violence in the home. After Donna made progress in
services, Bryce was returned to her care at the end of that month.
Following that return, however, service workers observed a decline in the
family's living conditions.
In October of 2004, the State filed a petition alleging Bryce to be a
child in need of assistance and he was later adjudicated under Iowa Code
section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2003). In July of 2005, the State filed a petition
seeking to terminate Donna's parental rights. Following a hearing, the
court terminated Donna's rights under sections 232.116(1)(d) and (h)
(2005). Donna appeals, asserting termination is not in Bryce's best
interests, the elements for termination were not proven by clear and
convincing evidence, and reasonable efforts toward reunification were not
We review termination orders de novo. In re R.F., 471 N.W.2d 821,
824 (Iowa 1991). Our primary concern is the best interests of the child.
In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000). While the district court
terminated the parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we will
affirm if at least one ground has been proved by clear and convincing
evidence. In re R.R.K., 544 N.W.2d 274, 276 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995).
DHS and the family's service providers made it exceedingly clear that
in order to ensure Bryce's return, the cleanliness and safety of Donna's
home was a high priority. The first goal in Donna's Detailed Progress
Report was that Donna would provide for Bryce a "safe and protected"
environment and a clean apartment. In furtherance of the accomplishment of
this goal, family counselor Julie Seemann repeatedly reminded Donna and her
live-in boyfriend, Mason, about the importance of a clean home and safe
home for the child. These reminders were apparently not received as
At the termination hearing, Seemann opined Donna's apartment was
unsafe for Bryce, and she described the condition of the bathroom as
"ghastly." During in-home visits Seemann noted "overflows of garbage," cat
feces covering the bathroom floors, spills that had not been cleaned for
months, and a refrigerator with a broken floor piece that potentially
exposed Bryce to heated coils.
Kim Andeway, a DHS social worker, corroborated Seemann's view of the
home's living conditions. When she visited the home approximately two
weeks prior to the termination hearing Andeway saw filthy conditions and
noted an almost unbearable odor in the bathroom. She saw small choking
hazards scattered on the floor, items that could potentially fall on a
small child, hygiene supplies and chemicals in the bathroom that were
accessible to Bryce, and generally unsanitary conditions.
Donna and her live-in boyfriend Mason had been given explicit
instructions to clean up the home and detailed guidance on how to do it.
Donna was also made aware of the consequences if she failed to comply.
Despite these clear instructions, Andeway flatly opined that Donna did
"nothing" to alleviate the many hygienic and safety problems which
Accordingly, upon our de novo review of the record, we conclude the
court properly terminated Donna's parental rights under section
232.116(1)(h). At the time of the termination hearing, Bryce simply could
not be returned to Donna's custody. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(h)(4).
Despite prompting and guidance, Donna failed to provide a reasonably safe
and sanitary living condition for a child of Bryce's tender age. For the
same reasons, we conclude termination was in Bryce's best interest. See In
re M.S., 519 N.W.2d 398, 400 (Iowa 1994) ("Even if the statutory
requirements for termination are met, the decision to terminate must still
be in the best interest of the children."). We therefore affirm the
termination of Donna's parental rights to Bryce.
 Donna has failed to preserve for our review her contention that the
State did not make reasonable efforts to allow her to reunite with Bryce.
In a March 2005 dispositional order, the court found reasonable efforts had
been made to eliminate Bryce's removal and advised Donna of her
responsibility to request additional services. There is no indication such
additional services were sought. See In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 65 (Iowa
Ct. App. 1999) (noting that where a parent fails to demand services other
than those that were provided, the issue of the adequacy of those services
is not preserved for review).