In re D.W., No. 10-1230.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtCADY
Citation791 N.W.2d 703
PartiesIn the Interest of D.W., Minor Child, A.M.W., Mother, Appellant.
Decision Date17 December 2010
Docket NumberNo. 10-1230.
791 N.W.2d 703

In the Interest of D.W., Minor Child,
A.M.W., Mother, Appellant.


No. 10-1230.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Dec. 17, 2010.

791 N.W.2d 705

Stephen W. Newport of Newport & Newport, P.L.C., Davenport, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Janet L. Hoffman and Bruce L. Kempkes, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.

CADY, Justice.

In this case, the State requests further review of the court of appeals' decision reversing an order by the juvenile court terminating a mother's parental rights. On our de novo review, we find the district court properly terminated the mother's parental rights. As a result, we vacate the decision of the court of appeals and affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

A.W. is the mother of D.W., who was born on June 26, 2009. A.W. was twenty-two years old at the time of D.W.'s birth. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) determined D.W. was at risk for neglect and abuse due to A.W.'s history with DHS in two previous child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) cases that resulted in the termination of her parental rights with respect to her two other children. Accordingly, DHS provided services and assistance to A.W. after D.W.'s birth and continued to monitor D.W.'s safety.

In August of 2009, DHS requested an emergency removal order when A.W. left D.W. in the care of D.W.'s intoxicated father, D.T., following a domestic dispute between the couple. D.T. had a history of substance abuse and domestic violence that formed the basis for the prior termination of parental rights involving the two older children. The juvenile court ordered the removal of D.W. from the home, and he has been in foster care since that time.1

Following the emergency removal, D.W. was adjudicated in need of assistance due to his parents' failure to provide appropriate care and supervision. After the CINA adjudication, he was placed with the same foster home into which his two siblings had been adopted. A.W. was granted supervised visitation with D.W. three times per week. Throughout the period of attempted reunification, A.W. worked with DHS to develop the necessary skills to care for D.W. Although A.W. cooperated fully with the services DHS offered her, the case progress reports reflected continuous concern that A.W. was not retaining and applying the information given to her to improve her parenting skills. The case reports cited A.W.'s low IQ as the basis of her substandard and inconsistent parenting of D.W.

Ultimately, DHS concluded the goal of permanently reuniting D.W. with A.W. could not be met. On March 29, 2010, the juvenile court entered an order approving DHS's modified permanency plan for adoption. A termination petition was filed in April of 2010, nearly eight months after D.W.'s removal. The grounds for termination alleged A.W.'s failure to provide a safe home for D.W. due to her inability to retain information about proper care for D.W.'s evolving needs, along with her past history of neglect, substance abuse, and unhealthy relationships.

At trial, the evidence indicated that, although a nurturing and loving parent during visits, A.W. consistently struggled with long-term planning and safety evaluations for D.W. DHS service providers' testimony and case progress reports showed that A.W. failed to meet D.W.'s evolving developmental needs, such as spoon-feeding and

791 N.W.2d 706
providing D.W. with developmental exercise, age-appropriate toys, and teething relief. At the end of several visits shortly after removal, A.W. had difficulty remembering instruction she had been given on how to lock the car seat properly.

The evidence at trial also reflected that A.W. struggled with age-appropriate expectations for D.W., became frustrated easily, and lacked sufficiently stable housing. On one occasion, A.W. tried to teach D.W. to descend a steep stairway facing forward. On another occasion, A.W. placed D.W. in a sitting position on a couch unsupported and became frustrated when D.W. fell over. A.W. had difficulty remembering to feed D.W. with a spoon rather than a bottle after being reminded on numerous occasions. A.W. lived with her mother and her mother's fiance and tended to blame her mother when visitation problems occurred. A.W. also tended to rely heavily on the service providers and her mother to watch D.W. while she was attending to other tasks, and she asked others to make decisions on long-term planning issues. A.W. often left home to stay with a cousin after becoming "bored at home," and this arrangement caused A.W. to be late for visits on several occasions. Throughout the reunification efforts, A.W. expressed a desire to move out of her mother's home, but was unable to show a financial ability to do so while providing stability for D.W. DHS service providers testified that, although A.W. listened to the advice she was given, she failed to apply it consistently without being reminded by a DHS worker.

After the contested hearing on July 6, 2010, the juvenile court ordered termination of A.W.'s parental rights. The court found termination appropriate pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)( d ), ( e ), ( g ), ( h ), ( i ), and ( l ) (2009). A.W. appealed, arguing that the juvenile court had inappropriately based its order solely on A.W.'s mental disability rather than her ability to keep D.W. safe. She also claimed that termination is not in D.W.'s overall best interests because of a strong bond between them. The court of appeals reversed the juvenile court's order for termination. It found inadequate evidence in the record of an inability to appropriately parent D.W. The majority of the court of appeals found the statutory requirements for termination had not been met and that the evidence of A.W.'s ability to consistently meet D.W.'s general basic needs, along with A.W.'s affectionate and nurturing behavior towards D.W., outweighed the "minor and intermittent safety issues" that arose throughout the case.

The State sought, and we...

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813 practice notes
  • Agre v. Wolf, CIVIL ACTION NO. 17–4392
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • January 10, 2018
    ...produces in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction, without hesitancy" of the truth of the matter); In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) ("[N]o serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness" of the conclusions drawn from the evidence).15 In re ......
  • In re Interest of A.B., No. 20-1266
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 2, 2021
    ...as to the correctness [of] conclusions of law drawn from the evidence." ’ " Id. (alteration in original) (quoting In re D.W. , 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) ).IV. Analysis.Mom appeals both the adverse finding on reasonable efforts and the termination of her parental rights to al......
  • G.Y. v. S.W. (In re L.Y.), 20-1034
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 14, 2022
    ...there are no 'serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness or conclusions of law drawn from the 25 evidence.'" In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) (quoting In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000) (en banc)). This heightened standard aligns with the standard of proof ......
  • In re Interest of C.F.-H., No. 16-0918
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 16, 2016
    ...order based on our independent review of the record, regardless of the content of the appellee's response. See, e.g. , In re D.W. , 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010) ("[W]e may affirm the juvenile court's termination order on any ground that we find supported by clear and convincing evid......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
813 cases
  • Agre v. Wolf, CIVIL ACTION NO. 17–4392
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • January 10, 2018
    ...produces in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction, without hesitancy" of the truth of the matter); In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) ("[N]o serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness" of the conclusions drawn from the evidence).15 In re ......
  • In re Interest of A.B., No. 20-1266
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 2, 2021
    ...as to the correctness [of] conclusions of law drawn from the evidence." ’ " Id. (alteration in original) (quoting In re D.W. , 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) ).IV. Analysis.Mom appeals both the adverse finding on reasonable efforts and the termination of her parental rights to al......
  • G.Y. v. S.W. (In re L.Y.), 20-1034
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 14, 2022
    ...there are no 'serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness or conclusions of law drawn from the 25 evidence.'" In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010) (quoting In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000) (en banc)). This heightened standard aligns with the standard of proof ......
  • In re Interest of C.F.-H., No. 16-0918
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 16, 2016
    ...order based on our independent review of the record, regardless of the content of the appellee's response. See, e.g. , In re D.W. , 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010) ("[W]e may affirm the juvenile court's termination order on any ground that we find supported by clear and convincing evid......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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