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In re Isabella G.

June 17, 2010

IN RE ISABELLA G., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
D.G. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



APPEALS from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Laura J. Birkmeyer, Judge. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. No. J516567).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'rourke, J.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

D.G. and Elisa F. appeal a judgment terminating their parental rights to their minor daughter, Isabella G., under Welfare and Institutions Code*fn1 section 366.26. The parents argue the evidence was insufficient to support the court's findings that the beneficial parent-child relationship exception of section 366.26, subdivision (c)(1)(B)(i), did not apply to preclude termination of their parental rights.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGOUND

In February 2007 Isabella was taken into protective custody two days after her birth. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (the Agency) reported that Isabella's parents had a history of domestic violence. Following Isabella's birth, D.G. acted violently toward Elisa in the hospital in the presence of Isabella. Elisa also suffered from a drug and alcohol abuse problem. She acknowledged abusing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana. The Agency further reported that Elisa had been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder and she sometimes manifested psychotic symptoms. She had a history of psychiatric admissions and numerous mental health assessments that confirmed her diagnosis. Elisa also had a criminal history that included arrests for drug-related offenses, including possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

D.G. had a history of mental illness and an extensive criminal history. He had a prior diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the record shows he had been hospitalized and treated with psychotropic medications for hallucinations. His criminal history consisted of arrests for domestic violence and battery. D.G. had violent confrontations with Elisa, the most recent of which was one month before Isabella's birth. During the confrontation, D.G. pushed Elisa and threatened to slit her throat and beat her.

The Agency filed a petition on behalf of Isabella under section 300, subdivisions (a) and (b), citing domestic violence and Elisa's mental illness as primary factors requiring the Agency to take Isabella into protective custody.

Gregory F. Bishop, M.D., a psychiatrist, assessed the parents and recommended that reunification be approached slowly. He stated both parents needed medication to treat their mental illnesses and needed to participate in individual counseling. Elisa required parenting and life skills courses. D.G. needed to participate in stress and anger management courses. Dr. Bishop did not believe D.G. could be the sole caregiver for Isabella given that he had a history of not being able to provide himself with proper mental health care.

The court declared Isabella a dependent of the court and removed her from parental care. The Agency placed Isabella in foster care and ordered reunification services for the parents.

From March 2007 through June 2008 Elisa participated in reunification services. In April 2007 the police responded to a domestic violence incident between Elisa and D.G. The court issued a no contact order against D.G.

In a six-month review report, the Agency reported Elisa had enrolled in a domestic violence program and had been participating in individual counseling sessions. Elisa complied with her medication regimen and was not abusing illegal drugs. In August 2007 Elisa progressed to unsupervised visits with Isabella. During an unannounced visit, the social worker observed that Isabella was doing well in Elisa's care and the interactions between Elisa and Isabella were appropriate. Isabella's foster mother did not report concerns about the visits between Elisa and Isabella. The court continued services for an additional six months at the six-month review hearing.

In a 12-month review report, the social worker reported that D.G. and Elisa had made significant progress with their case plan. The couple participated in conjoint therapy and the therapist opined the couple was doing "extremely well." Elisa continued to participate in unsupervised visits with Isabella. The court held a 12-month review hearing and continued Elisa as a dependent. The court ordered the parents to continue with their services and to participate in unsupervised visits.

In June 2008 Isabella began a 60-day visit with her parents. During this visit, there was one report of domestic violence between Elisa and D.G. Isabella ...


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