IN RE THE INTEREST OF B.K., Minor Child, D.K., Mother, Appellant.

Download as DOC IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA No. 5-818 / 05-1513 Filed November 23, 2005 IN RE THE INTEREST OF B.K., Minor Child, D.K., Mother, Appellant. 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 appellant-mother. 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. HECHT, J. 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 made.[1] 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 helpful suggestions. 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 obstructed reunification. 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. AFFIRMED. ----------------------- [1] 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).