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In re A.M. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. G.R

December 1, 2010


In re A.M. CA3


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

G.R. (mother) appeals from the juvenile court's dispositional order denying reunification services on the ground of mental disability. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 361.5, subd. (b)(2); further undesignated statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.) In addition to attacking the order, mother claims the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq. (ICWA)) was not complied with. We affirm the judgment.


The Prior Dependency

In April 2006, the Tehama County Department of Social Services filed a section 300 petition as to minors A.M. (a female born in 2003) and Cod.M. (a male born in 2005), alleging: Mother was arrested for receiving stolen property and appeared to be under the influence of methamphetamine. The home was unsafe for the minors. Father was in jail. The minors had witnessed frequent and severe domestic violence between the parents.

According to the detention report, mother admitted prior use of methamphetamine, but claimed she now used only marijuana.

The disposition report recommended foster care for the minors and reunification services for the parents. The juvenile court so ordered.

The report stated: During the late 1990's and early 2000's, mother incurred several criminal convictions and was arrested several times for inflicting corporal injury on her then spouse. She met father in 2002 when they had the same parole officer. She claimed his behavior had recently deteriorated due to "pills and crank" and he had refused treatment. To escape domestic violence, she went into a safe house, but then contacted father again and left the safe house. She was also caught carrying marijuana on a visit to the minors. From April 6 to May 6, 2006, she drug tested nine times, including one positive test for marijuana, then stopped testing.

On May 17, 2006, mother was arrested on a DUI charge. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of court probation.

The dependency case was transferred to Shasta County in June 2006.

The six-month review report, filed October 23, 2006, recommended further services for the parents, but noted: Mother tested positive for marijuana on nine tests out of 18 from early April to early June 2006, and since then had failed to test or supplied diluted samples (both scored as "dirty" tests) 18 out of 19 times. She had a doctor's recommendation for marijuana, but it did not take effect until the end of August 2006. She failed to prove attendance at AA/NA meetings. A therapist recommended a psychological evaluation because mother's denials of substance abuse and domestic violence did not jibe with her documented history.

In September 2006, Dr. Robert Boyle, a psychologist, evaluated mother. He diagnosed alcohol dependence and "Personality Disorder NOS--histrionic and narcissistic." Mother showed defensiveness, denial, and lack of insight into her problems. Her "lifestyle has been characterized by interpersonal chaos and dysfunction, as well as decisions that have been self-centered and emotionally immature." Her prognosis was "guarded."

On April 5, 2007, the Shasta County Department of Social Services (the Department) filed a section 300 petition as to mother's newborn daughter, Cou.M., alleging that the parents had not benefited from their case plan and still had substance abuse problems.

On June 8, 2007, at the combined jurisdictional hearing as to Cou.M. and 12-month review hearing as to the older minors, the juvenile court found mother had made substantial progress in resolving her problems, but father still had a substance abuse problem and was incarcerated; the parents were separated and mother had obtained a restraining order against father. The court placed Cou.M. with mother under a family maintenance plan (an order the court renewed at Cou.M.'s dispositional hearing on December 18, 2007) and authorized the Department to attempt a trial placement of A.M. and Cod.M. with mother; the court also terminated father's reunification services as to A.M and Cod.M.

The disposition report as to Cou.M., filed August 3, 2007, stated: In the last nine months mother had tested positive for marijuana seven times, given 12 diluted samples, and failed to test eight times. However, she was undergoing counseling; had completed programs in domestic violence, DUI, and parenting; and attended AA meetings twice a week.

In the 18-month status review report as to the older minors, filed October 26, 2007, the Department recommended continuing out-of-home placement and terminating mother's services. According to the report, the parents had had unauthorized contacts in violation of the restraining order against father. Moreover, mother was unwilling to explore her problems deeply in counseling, she was failing to document attendance at 12-step meetings, her visits with the minors showed defective parenting skills, and (in the social worker's view) she had been dishonest throughout the history of the case.

An addendum report as to Cou.M. filed November 8, 2007, however, recommended maintaining her placement with mother.

At the combined 18-month status review hearing in the older minors' case and dispositional hearing in Cou.M.'s case on December 18, 2007, the juvenile court granted mother increased visitation as to the older minors, continued Cou.M.'s placement with mother, and denied services to father as to Cou.M.

An addendum report filed February 29, 2008, recommended returning the older minors to mother's care under a family maintenance plan. Mother was currently compliant with her case plan, showing a better attitude in counseling and attending weekly parenting classes (though she still failed to document attendance at 12-step meetings). She had tested positive for marijuana again, but produced a medical recommendation for it. Her visits with the minors (now unsupervised) and her parenting skills had improved. She and the social worker had agreed on a "safety plan" for herself and the minors, including no contact with father, continued sobriety, continued participation in developmental services for the minors, and planning for appropriate childcare and respite services.

On March 7, 2008, at the continued 18-month status review hearing, the juvenile court ordered the older minors' return to mother under a family maintenance plan.

On August 15, 2008, a status review report recommended terminating the dependencies and returning the minors to mother's physical and legal custody. On September 2, 2008, the juvenile court so ordered.

The Present Dependency

On October 9, 2008, the Department filed new section 300 petitions as to all the minors, alleging: Mother's home was again filthy and unsafe. Father was present, despite the restraining order. The minors said the parents were arguing and engaging in domestic violence. Mother said she would "take the children and run to Mexico" rather than let the Department take them again.

The jurisdiction report, filed November 5, 2008, stated:

On October 10, 2008, an investigating police officer reported that mother's home was in disarray, with rotten food on the kitchen floor, dirty dishes (including knives) all over the kitchen, dirty clothes in the bedrooms, dirty diapers in the bathrooms, and fecal matter in the toilets. While the officer was there, mother called and said she had taken the minors to keep them from the Department.

Law enforcement took the minors into custody in Butte County on October 13, 2008.

On October 16, 2008, mother underwent an alcohol and drug assessment (attached to the jurisdictional report as an exhibit). The interviewer concluded mother was alcohol-dependent and possibly dishonest about it: she claimed she had drunk only a couple of times lately, but the floor of her home was littered with empty alcohol containers. Though she said she was doing a 12-step program, she could not identify any group meeting as her "home group." She had been uncooperative at a recent drug test and may have tried to alter the specimen; her test had been coded "dirty." Her denial of an alcohol problem was disturbing, and her drug testing behavior suggested she might be abusing other substances. Intensive outpatient treatment and random drug testing were recommended, and an intake interview had been scheduled. Because mother reported being bipolar and experiencing mild depression and anxiety, a psychiatric assessment of her mental health needs also was indicated.

At a hearing on November 10, 2008, the juvenile court ordered mother to undergo psychological evaluations and to submit to drug testing by the hair follicle method. The court specified that mother was ...

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