as: 686 N.W.2d 236, 2004 WL 1161431 (Iowa App.))
Court's decision is referenced in a "Decisions Without Published Opinions"
table in the North Western Reporter. See FI IA R
6.14(5) for rules regarding the use and citation of unpublished
Court of Appeals of Iowa.
the Interest of J.G. and M.G., Minor Children,
was no error in the juvenile court's termination of parental
rights proceedings since juvenile court did not enter a termination
order until it received documentation that the children were not
Indian children subject to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). 25
U.S.C.A. § 1901
was in the children's best interests to terminate mother's parental
rights; mother had not acted in the children's best interests
by continuing a criminal lifestyle that involved the use of
illegal drugs, and children needed permanency.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Karla
Fultz, Associate Juvenile Judge.
B.S. appeals from the termination of her parental rights. AFFIRMED.
Edward Bull of Bull Law Office, P.C., Des Moines, for
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tabitha Gardner, Assistant Attorney General,
John Sarcone, County Attorney, and William Sales, Assistant County Attorney,
Jane White of Parrish, Kruidenier, Moss, Dunn, Boles, Gribble &
Cook, L.L.P., Des Moines, for father.
Debra Hockett-Clark, West Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by MAHAN, P.J., and ZIMMER and EISENHAUER, JJ.
Background Facts & Proceedings
Brandy is the mother of Jasmine, born in November 1996,
and Michael, born in May 1999.
[FN1] She has a history of substance abuse. The children
were placed in foster care in September 2002 after Brandy
was arrested for a probation violation. Brandy's probation was related
to drug charges--possession of a controlled substance with intent to
deliver and failure to affix a drug tax stamp. The
children were adjudicated to be children in need of assistance
pursuant to Iowa Code sections 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (Supp.2001).
The children's father agreed to termination of his parental rights.
He is not a party to this appeal.
Brandy entered the House of Mercy, a residential treatment program,
in December 2002. She left the program in April 2003,
after she had two drug tests that were positive for
methamphetamine. Brandy's whereabouts were unknown until June 2003, when she
turned herself in to her probation officer. Brandy was then
incarcerated. Her earliest release date would be February 2005.
In September 2003 the State filed a petition seeking termination
of Brandy's parental rights. At a hearing in October 2003,
Brandy stated the children could possibly be members of the
Blackfeet Tribe. The juvenile court suspended the termination hearing until
January 6, 2004, "to allow the issue of native American
heritage to be explored and appropriate notices to be sent."
On January 6, 2004, the parties had insufficient information about
whether or not the children in this case were potentially
members of an Indian tribe. The juvenile court proceeded with
the termination hearing, but left the record open for further
information on this issue. On March 3, 2004, the court
received documentation that the children were not Indian children.
The juvenile court entered a termination order on March 18,
2004. The court terminated Brandy's parental rights under sections 232.116(1)(b),
(d), (h), and (k) (2003). The court noted the children
could not be returned to Brandy because of her incarceration.
The court concluded termination of Brandy's parental
rights was in the children's best interests. Brandy appeals.
Standard of Review
The scope of review in termination cases is de novo.
re C.B .,
611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000). The grounds for termination
must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. In
604 N.W.2d 660, 661 (Iowa 2000).
Indian Child Welfare Act
Brandy contends the juvenile court
failed to allow her adequate time to investigate whether the Indian Child
Welfare Act (ICWA) would apply in this case. She claims the juvenile court
should not have proceeded with the termination hearing without first conclusively
determining whether the ICWA would apply.
The purpose of the ICWA is to protect the best
interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and
security of Indian tribes and families. In
532 N.W.2d 504, 506 (Iowa Ct.App.1995). The juvenile court did
not enter a termination order in this case until it
received documentation that the children in this case were not
Indian children, and the court then concluded the ICWA did
not apply. Brandy was clearly not prejudiced by the court's
procedure in this case, and we find no error in
the juvenile court proceedings.
Brandy asserts that termination
of her parental rights is not in the children's best interests. Even if
the statutory requirements for termination
of parental rights are met, the decision to terminate must still be in
the best interests of the children. In
re M.S., 519 N.W.2d
398, 400 (Iowa 1994). In considering children's best interests, we look
to the children's long-range as well as immediate interests. In
re C.K., 558 N.W.2d
170, 172 (Iowa 1997).
We find it is in the children's best interests to
terminate Brandy's parental rights. Brandy has not acted in the
children's best interests by continuing a criminal lifestyle that involves
the use of illegal drugs. The children need permanency. They
should not be required to wait any longer for Brandy
to put their needs before her own.
We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.
686 N.W.2d 236 (Table), 2004 WL 1161431 (Iowa App.)