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In re K.C.

April 26, 2010

IN RE K.C., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
KINGS COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
J.C., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Kings County. George Orndoff, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. 08JD0075).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Levy, Acting P.J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

THE COURT*fn1

J.C. (father) appeals from an order terminating parental rights (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.26) to his son, K.*fn2 At the same hearing that resulted in the termination, the trial court also denied a petition for relative placement (§ 388) brought by the child's paternal grandparents (grandparents). Father's sole contention is that the court erred in denying the relative placement request. On review, we affirm. We hold father does not have appellate standing to contest the denial order.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY

In December 2008, the Kings County Superior Court adjudged infant K. a juvenile dependent child and removed him from parental custody. There was a substantial risk that the infant would be abused or neglected. His mother's chronic abuse of methamphetamine and alcohol rendered her unable to provide K. with regular care and supervision. (§ 300, subd. (b).) In addition, she previously neglected and failed to reunify with K.'s siblings who were juvenile dependents of the Tulare County Superior Court. (§ 300, subd. (j).) At the same December 2008 hearing, the court denied both parents reunification services (§ 361.5, subd. (b)(10), (11) & (13)) and set an April 2009 section 366.26 hearing to select and implement a permanent plan for K.

In the meantime, the grandparents requested placement of K. and were going through the process of a placement assessment. They also expressed a willingness to adopt K. Respondent Kings County Human Services Agency (agency) meanwhile placed K. in a foster home.

The agency completed its placement assessment of the grandparents in mid-January 2009. It determined the grandparents' home met the licensing requirements under section 361.4. However, for numerous reasons, the agency determined K.'s placement with the grandparents was not in his best interest, and so denied the placement request. When the grandparents submitted a grievance, the agency's program manager reconsidered the decision not to place. Upon reconsideration, the program manager decided not to overturn the previous decision and so informed the grandparents in writing in March 2009.

An adoption specialist with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) meanwhile filed a "366.26 WIC Report" in which it recommended the court find K. adoptable and order termination of parental rights. Because it is undisputed that K. is likely to be adopted, we need not summarize the supporting evidence here.

According to the report's history of family contacts, there had been no visits between K. and his birth parents since his detention in November 2008 when K. was six weeks old. The court, however, had authorized supervised visits between K. and father at the detention hearing. Due to the lack of visitation and contact, it was difficult to state that a significant bond and attachment had formed. It did not appear termination would be detrimental to K.

In April 2009, the grandparents petitioned, pursuant to section 388, to have K. placed in their home. The court ordered a hearing on the grandparents' petition. The hearing eventually occurred, along with the permanency planning hearing, in August 2009. Following a two-day evidentiary hearing on the grandparents' petition, father's counsel joined in their argument for placement.

The court thereafter denied the grandparents' petition. It found, having considered factors outlined in section 361.3 regarding relative placement, that placing K. with the grandparents would not be appropriate.

The parties then proceeded with the section 366.26 hearing. The agency submitted the matter on the 366.26 WIC Report previously filed by CDSS. There was also testimony that father had still not visited with K. In fact, since K.'s birth, father saw him only once. Father's counsel acknowledged there was no exception to adoption that applied in this case. Nevertheless, father did not agree K. should be ...


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