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In Re R. W. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. L. W

February 15, 2011


(Super. Ct. No. J04610)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blease, J.

In re R.W.



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Appellant L.W., the mother of the minors D.T., E.W., and R.W., appeals the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights as to E.W. and R.W. and denying her petition for modification as to all three minors. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 388, 395; further section references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.) She contends it was an abuse of discretion for the juvenile court to deny her petition for modification (§ 388) seeking the minors' return, and the juvenile court should have applied the parent-child bond and sibling relation exceptions to adoption. We shall affirm the juvenile court's orders.


In May 2007, appellant was living with her three children, D.T., R.W., and E.W., and two roommates, Michael and his girlfriend S.J. The minors were placed in protective custody after a medical exam showed numerous healing scars on R.W., and further investigation determined Michael physically abused all of the minors.

The minors were interviewed at a homeless shelter. D.T. came up to a social worker and said, "Michael did this to my brother." He then removed R.W.'s shirt, exposing belt welts all over R.W.'s back, and said Michael hit his brother with a belt. D.T. told the social worker, "look at this," and revealed skin peeling off of R.W.'s toes, caused by Michael burning them with hot wax and cigarettes. D.T. said Michael hit him with a belt, and burned E.W. with a cigarette. The minors were abused when appellant was not at home; D.T. told appellant, but she did nothing.

Appellant told the social worker she was having a hard time paying for her car and making rent, so she spoke to her brother about the problem and he introduced her to Michael. Appellant left the minors with Michael while she looked for a job. She saw bruises on her children over a month ago, but continued to leave them with Michael.

On May 15, 2007, the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency (HSA) filed a dependency petition alleging jurisdiction over the minors pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (b), (failure to protect), (e) (severe physical abuse), (i) (cruelty), and (j) (abuse of sibling). Appellant did not contest the allegations, and the juvenile court sustained the petition in August 2007.

The minors were continued in foster care at the October 2007 disposition hearing. Appellant's case plan included anger management, parenting classes, and obtaining suitable housing. The minors were first placed in the same foster home, but inappropriate behavior between D.T. and R.W. led to D.T. being placed in a different foster home.

A January 2008 report noted appellant attended all but one of her parenting classes, receiving excellent references from the instructor, and completed half of her anger management classes. An October 2007 visit ended early after appellant failed to intercede in a fight between D.T. and R.W., and made inappropriate comments to the minors. Appellant appeared to be very motivated and receptive to services. She was residing with her mother and grandmother in Stockton.

HSA issued another report in May 2008. Appellant had a new husband, W.J., whom she met at a Salvation Army homeless shelter. W.J. had an extensive criminal record, including three serious felony convictions, along with convictions for domestic violence and controlled substance offenses.

Appellant left W.J. in November 2007 after experiencing problems with him, but then returned after having difficulties with her mother. Appellant reported she was again living with W.J. in December 2007.

Appellant's visits were inconsistent. She placed unreasonable expectations on D.T. regarding his bed wetting, and punished E.W.'s misbehavior by telling the two-year-old he would be placed on timeout for the entirety of the next visit.

The reporting social worker noted appellant's inability to put in practice what she learned in parenting classes. Appellant was referred to parent-child interactive therapy (PCIT) with D.T. to remedy this problem. The social worker also expressed concerns about appellant's mental health and impulsive behavior.

A July 2008 report related that since the dependency, appellant had lived in at least seven different residences, none suitable for the minors. She continued to be impulsive; her actions were based on her needs rather than the needs of her children. Although appellant completed her initial case plan, she had not started PCIT, and failed to acknowledge her role in exposing the minors to severe physical abuse. She also indicated all three of the minors were conceived by sexual assaults. HSA recommended a psychological evaluation for appellant to address these concerns.

Appellant gave birth to another child, A.J., in May 2008. W.J. was the father. In June 2008, D.T. told a social worker he did not want to go home with appellant. HSA recommended ...

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