IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA
No. 1-321 / 11-0344
Filed May 11, 2011
IN THE INTEREST OF J.F. and L.F.,
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Kellyann M.
A mother appeals the juvenile court’s order terminating her parental rights.
Brett H. Schilling of Schilling Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Charles K. Phillips, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Shane A. Fink, Fort Dodge, appellee pro se.
Tammy L. Banning of Tammy L. Banning, P.L.C., Waterloo, attorney and
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Eisenhauer, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.
Brandy appeals from the juvenile court’s order terminating her parental
rights to two children, ages eleven months and nearly two years at the time of
The family has been involved on a voluntary basis with the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) since September 2009. Brandy has a
history of substance abuse and had her parental rights to three older children
terminated previously in another state. Both children involved in this case tested
positive for drugs at birth. Shortly before the termination hearing, Brandy was
convicted of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. At the time,
she was on probation for possession of marijuana and possession of crack
Her probation was revoked, and she was serving a ten-year
sentence at the time of the termination hearing in January 2011.
The juvenile court terminated Brandy’s parental rights pursuant to Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(e), (g), (h), (j), and (l) (2009).
asserting the court should have placed guardianship of the children with her aunt
or, in the alternative, delayed permanency to allow placement of the children with
She also asserts the court erred in finding the State had proved
statutory grounds for termination. After a de novo review, we affirm. See In re
Dameron, 306 N.W.2d 743, 745 (Iowa 1981).
We agree with the juvenile court that the State proved grounds for
termination under section 232.116(1)(h).1 The children are younger than three
years of age; they have been adjudicated children in need of assistance; they
Though the juvenile court terminated Brandy’s parental rights as to each child on
multiple statutory grounds, we need only find that termination is appropriate on one
ground to affirm. In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999).
have been removed from Brandy’s care for the last six consecutive months; and,
due to Brandy’s incarceration and substance abuse, there is clear and convincing
evidence they cannot be returned to Brandy’s custody at the present time. See
Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(h).
Brandy asserts the children’s best interests would be best served by
creating a guardianship with her aunt, which would allow her the opportunity to
maintain contact with her children.
We agree with the juvenile court that a
guardianship is not in the children’s best interests.
Brandy is presently
incarcerated and will be unable to parent the children for an extended period of
time. She also has an extensive history of substance abuse, which she has been
unable to overcome.
It is not in the children’s best interests to establish a
guardianship with a relative who admitted she had “no existing relationship with
these children” in the hopes that once Brandy is eventually released from prison,
she will become a responsible parent.
We determine the best interests of the children would be served by a
termination of Brandy’s parental rights. The children are at an adoptable age and
deserve stability and permanency. See In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 801 (Iowa
2006) (Cady, J., concurring specially) (“A child’s safety and the need for a
permanent home are now the primary concerns when determining a child’s best
interests.”). The children’s physical, mental, and emotional needs will best be
met by termination of Brandy’s parental rights. See Iowa Code § 232.116(2).
We further agree with the juvenile court’s finding that delaying
permanency was not an option for the children in this case. The children have
been out of the home since they were removed in March 2010. Iowa courts have
been emphatic that after statutory limits in Iowa Code chapter 232 have passed,
the case must be viewed with a sense of urgency. See In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d
489, 495 (Iowa 2000).
This is so because “patience with parents can soon
translate into intolerable hardship for their children.” In re A.C., 415 N.W.2d 609,
613 (Iowa 1987). The children “should not be forced to endlessly suffer the
parentless limbo of foster care.” In re J.P., 499 N.W.2d 334, 339 (Iowa Ct. App.
The juvenile court properly declined to delay permanency for these