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In re V.V.

August 20, 2010

IN RE V.V. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
V.G. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, Dean L. Petersen, Juvenile Court Referee. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. Nos. JD226962, JD228026).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cantil-sakauye, J.

Certified for partial publication 09/08/2010 (order attached)

Appellants V.G. (mother) and J.V. (father) appeal from the juvenile court's orders terminating their parental rights as to the two children, V.V. (born January 2005) and Va.V. (born August 2008). (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 395, 366.26.)*fn1 The mother contends she was not notified of the section 388 hearing where her reunification services were terminated, and the juvenile court should have applied the parent-child and sibling bond exceptions to adoption. The father contends the juvenile court erred by preventing him from discharging retained counsel. We shall affirm the juvenile court's orders.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

In February 2008, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a nondetained dependency petition pursuant to section 300, subdivision (b), alleging violence, the mother's history of substance abuse, and positive tests for marijuana and methamphetamine in October 2007.

According to a March 2008 report, the mother had moved in with L.H. and C.H., whom she considered her parents. The mother initially denied using drugs, but later admitted using marijuana and methamphetamine. She used methamphetamine together with the father; the mother believed V.V. would not be safe with him because the father gets a lot of traffic day and night from selling drugs. Regarding domestic violence, the mother stated, "He's [the father] kicked me, threw a Gatorade bottle at my head, put his arms around my throat, and bit me. He's done those things around [V.V.]."

The father denied the drug and domestic violence allegations. He refused to test for drugs, or sign the family maintenance plan.

The mother tested positive for methamphetamine in February 2008. She admitted using methamphetamine since she was 16 or 17 years old, and smoking the drug three to four times a week.

The original petition was superseded by an amended petition (§ 300) filed in March 2008, which added domestic violence allegations.

An April 2008 report related the mother was compliant with her drug testing and treatment program. The father had been charged with six felony drug offenses after he was found possession of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and a digital scale. He refused to sign a release for an alcohol and drug assessment; the father first wanted to talk to his criminal attorney because he did not want to incriminate himself.

In April 2008, the father waived services, and the mother waived her rights and submitted on the petition. The juvenile court sustained the petition, ordered services for the mother, and continued placement with her. DHHS later amended the petition to include the father's arrest on felony drug charges.

In July 2008, DHHS filed a supplemental petition (§ 387) alleging the mother used methamphetamine in V.V.'s presence and tested positive for methamphetamine in July 2008, when she was eight months pregnant. V.V. was placed with C.H. and L.H.

V.V. was not adjusting well to her placement, and frequently cried for her mother. C.H. and L.H. were unwilling to provide long-term care for her.

The mother gave birth to Va.V. in August 2008, and both tested negative for drugs at delivery. The baby was put into protective custody the following day, and DHHS filed a dependency petition for the minor pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (b) and (j). The children were placed together in a confidential foster home.

The March 2009 permanency report stated the children were doing well in their current foster placement. The father still refused to participate in services because he believed it would be an admission of criminal activity. The mother tested positive for methamphetamine in September and October 2008. In February 2009, she tested positive for methamphetamine and was discharged from treatment. The mother tested presumptive positive for marijuana two times in March 2009.

The juvenile court terminated services for the father in April 2009. DHHS filed a petition for modification (§ 388) in May 2009, seeking termination of the mother's services. The juvenile court granted the petition in June 2009, and set a termination hearing (§ 366.26).

A social worker found the parents' visits with the children were consistent and regular. Va.V. was not fazed by the visits and showed little excitement when they began or distress when they ended.

V.V. looked forward to visits, and considered the mother and father to be her parents. On a visit in October 2009, V.V. was told she would not be going home because she would be going to a new house with grownup parents. She was quiet during the visit, apparently taking in the information. She was tearful on the ride home, and told the foster parent she "was not going home to her mommy and daddy, because they were not grownup."

The children have an eight-year-old half brother, J.V., who is the father's son. V.V. was happy that her prospective adoptive family had a boy close to her brother's age. She regularly visited J.V., and was excited to go fishing with her new big brother in the prospective adoptive family.

V.V. was interested in finding out about the prospective adoptive family. She was particularly excited that they had a large house, she could go to preschool, the family liked Disney, and they would take her fishing. If she could have a princess bed and an Ariel doll, V.V. would move to the new family right away.

Following a contested hearing, the juvenile court terminated rights with a permanent plan of adoption.

DISCUSSION

I. The Mother Was Given ...


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