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In Re Eric C. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. E.C. et al

April 13, 2011

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



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD229554 & JD229555)

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

In re Eric C.

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

The mother and father of minors Eric and Kevin appeal from the juvenile court's order terminating their parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 §§ 366.26, 395.) They first contend there was no substantial evidence Kevin was adoptable. They then contend that even had the juvenile court properly found both children generally adoptable, it should have continued the case 180 days for home finding. Concluding the contentions lack merit, we shall affirm the juvenile court's order terminating appellants' parental rights.

BACKGROUND

In April 2009, Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed section 300 petitions on behalf of Eric (then 16 months of age) and Kevin (then four months of age) pursuant to subdivisions (a) [nonaccidental serious physical harm], (b) [failure to protect from serious physical harm], [¶] . . . [¶] (e) [severe physical abuse, as to Kevin], [¶] . . . [¶] and (j) [abuse of sibling, as to Eric]. The petitions, as subsequently amended, alleged appellants had used excessive corporal punishment, and that father had instructed appellants' 11-year-old son to physically abuse the minors. Kevin had been brought to the hospital with a broken arm, 15 to 20 rib fractures in different stages of healing, a skull fracture, oral ulcers and thrush, cuts on his ear caused by a sharp object, and kidney and liver lacerations consistent with blunt force trauma. Appellants had no coherent explanation for these injuries. Kevin did not swallow or feed for several weeks after detention. His arm, which had been completely broken, had not healed properly.

Eric was placed in a foster home, along with his older brother and sister, who are not subjects of this appeal. The older brother was removed due to his overly aggressive behavior toward the siblings, and Eric and his sister were subsequently placed with the paternal grandparents. After several weeks of hospitalization, Kevin was placed in a specialized foster home for medically fragile infants. By December, however, Kevin had been placed with his siblings in the paternal grandparents' home. Kevin was still seeing five specialists, continued to have some difficulty swallowing, was struggling with the arm that had been broken, and was developmentally behind.*fn2

The juvenile court sustained the section 300 petitions, denied reunification services pursuant to section 361.5, subdivisions (b)(5), (6), and (7), and set the matter for a permanency planning hearing for April 2010.

The month before the scheduled permanency planning hearing, the minors were removed from the paternal grandparents' home and placed in emergency foster care. The grandparents had been permitting teenagers and young adults who had not been cleared by DHHS to baby-sit the minors and the minors' older sister had revealed that the paternal grandfather had been practicing corporal punishment on Eric.

At the time of the April 2010 hearing, the minors were still in the emergency foster care placement. DHHS was assessing several relatives who had come forward stating they were willing to adopt the minors, including the maternal grandfather, the paternal grandmother and step-grandfather who lived in Louisiana, and a maternal aunt also in Louisiana. The juvenile court ordered Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) requests be made.

The social worker assessed that, even if no relatives were approved, it would not be difficult to locate an adoptive home. Both minors were young and neither had behavioral or emotional problems. Although Kevin still required the services of medical specialists,*fn3 he was continuing to progress, had no new health concerns, was no longer considered medically fragile, and did not need specialized care in the home. His earlier injuries had resulted in some developmental delays, which were being monitored and addressed. Eric had no health or developmental concerns. Kevin presented as a happy and easygoing child, and was reported to cry only when he was hungry. Eric presented as a happy, independent, and active toddler.

The permanency planning was continued for a contested hearing and was held on June 1, 2010. The ICPC responses had not yet been received at the time of the hearing. The juvenile court found that, even if the anticipated relative placements fell through, the evidence clearly and convincingly established that the minors were likely to be adopted within a reasonable time, based on their ages, physical condition and emotional state. Finding termination ...


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