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In Re M.M. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. C.M

March 22, 2011

IN RE M.M. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
C.M., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD229645, JD229646, JD229647, JD229648)

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

In re M.M.

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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, the mother of the minors, appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 395; undesignated statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.) Mother claims there is insufficient evidence to support the court's finding that the minors are adoptable. Disagreeing with this assertion, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In April 2009, juvenile dependency petitions were filed by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) concerning four minors -- one-year-old M.M., nearly two-year-old Ar.M., three-year-old Z.H., and nearly five-year-old An.M. -- based on mother's failure to protect the minors (who had an array of injuries) from her live-in boyfriend. The petitions were later amended to allege that An.M. had been sexually abused the previous year by a family friend and exhibited inappropriate sexualized behavior with Z.H., and that mother was aware of the abuse but failed to report it or seek psychological and medical assistance for An.M. and Z.H.

In October 2009, the juvenile court sustained the allegations in the petitions and ordered reunification services for mother.*fn1

According to the report for a review hearing in December 2009, mother had made little progress in services. She had not begun parenting classes and had attended only three group counseling sessions, despite receiving her initial referral to therapy six months earlier. Moreover, she was often late or did not attend visits with the minors, which upset them. Although the minors' then current caretakers were not interested in adopting them, the minors had been assessed as being adoptable, and the social worker recommended termination of services.

Following a contested review hearing in February 2010, the juvenile court terminated reunification services and set the matters for a hearing pursuant to section 366.26 to select and implement a permanent plan for the minors. Shortly before the review hearing, the minors had been placed in a prospective adoptive home.

According to the June 2010 report for the section 366.26 hearing, the minors had become noticeably more stable since being placed in their prospective adoptive home. M.M. was described as a "sweet toddler who is affectionate and happy." Ar.M. was reportedly "delightful and engaging." Z.H. was described as "a beautiful girl who is learning to share and take turns." An.M. was "quiet and reserved," and although he became "frustrated" at times, he was "overall a child who presents as happy and kind." All of the minors "appear[ed] to be at or near normal intellectual levels" and were reportedly in good health. Although M.M. was receiving services for speech and physical therapy, it was anticipated he would not continue to require such services. An.M. and Z.H., who had been in therapy, were expected to begin counseling with a new therapist closer to their adoptive placement. The prospective adoptive parent monitored the minors carefully and, as of the writing of the report, had observed no inappropriate sexualized behavior.

The prospective adoptive parent had been a successful foster parent for several years. She had routinely been a foster parent to children who were very chaotic and had on many occasions stabilized children before they moved to a permanent home. After the four minors were placed in her home, the prospective adoptive parent, with the support of her birth children, became interested in adopting the minors. She was enthusiastic about adopting the minors. The social worker concluded that "the [minors] are very adoptable," noting: "While there could be a debate as to whether the [minors] were generally or specifically adoptable, the argument is moot, as the caretaker is very interested in providing permanence via adoption. The caretaker is appropriate and the [minors] have stabilized tremendously in her care."

At the section 366.26 hearing in June 2010, the attorney for the Department stated she had informed the court and parties there had been a report that Z.H.'s sexual acting out had "re-emerged." However, this had not changed the Department's recommendation as to the minors' adoptability. The fact remained that the minors were still placed together and the family wanted to work with the minors to make this a successful adoption. Mother's attorney did not seek to cross-examine the social worker ...


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