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

September 15, 2011

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



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD229184 & JD229185)

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

In re S.S.

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 C.S., mother of minors K.L. and S.S. (collectively, the minors), appeals from the juvenile court's orders terminating her parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 395.)*fn1 Appellant claims there was insufficient evidence to support the court's finding that K.L. was adoptable. We conclude there is substantial evidence supporting the court's finding and affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 9, 2009, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed section 300 petitions on behalf of K.L. (then age six) and her half-sister, S.S. (then age two), alleging that their parents had failed to provide adequate care and protection for the minors based on the living conditions in their home and S.S.'s father's substance abuse problem. The minors were declared dependent children of the court and placed together in a foster home, and reunification services were provided.

In August 2009, the Department reported that S.S. had adjusted well in her placement. Around the same time, the Department reported that K.L., for the most part, had also adjusted well. She had established a positive relationship with the foster parents and was well liked by the family members. However, K.L. had temper tantrums, was defiant, and occasionally engaged in power struggles with her foster parents. On the other hand, she had no behavioral issues at school. She was developmentally on target but had enuresis and wet the bed daily. She was referred to individual counseling to address issues of attachment, neglect, adjustment in foster care, parental substance abuse, role reversal, and child-parent relationships. The therapist sought first to improve K.L.'s coping skills to decrease her tantrums and to improve K.L.'s enuresis. Other behaviors, such as lying, manipulation and anger management, were to be addressed in the future.

In March 2010, the Department reported that K.L. and S.S. were still placed together in the same foster home. S.S. was continuing to do well in placement. Prior to her detention, K.L. had very poor school attendance and was repeating first grade. She was now attending regularly and doing well academically. She was still struggling with enuresis but was otherwise healthy. She was reported to have adjusted nicely to her placement and her demeanor was relaxed and comfortable. She was said to be defiant and to have outbursts of anger, behaviors that were described as coping mechanisms from underlying issues. For example, she could go days without incident and then act out by talking back to her foster parents or by getting into a power struggle with them. There had also been an incident in September 2009 wherein K.L. had stolen $5 from a classmate. She was continuing in therapy to increase her ability to utilize coping skills so as to decrease aggressive behavior and tantrums.

Reunification services for K.L.'s father were terminated on April 22, 2010. Reunification services for appellant and S.S.'s father were terminated on July 8, 2010.

In October 2010, the Department filed a status report for the section 366.26 hearing, which was ultimately held on January 4, 2011. The Department reported that both minors were still placed together in the foster home in which they had originally been placed. S.S. was doing well. K.L. still struggled with enuresis but was otherwise healthy and developmentally on target. She was able to entertain herself and do simple chores. At times, she was still impulsive and defiant at home, but she did not act out at school. She was doing well academically, socialized appropriately, and was described as "bright" and "outgoing." She remained in therapy to address concerns of lying and challenging authority.

The current foster parents did not want to adopt either minor. They are experienced foster parents, and the primary reason they had no desire to adopt is that they wanted to continue to provide foster care.*fn2 They also noted that K.L.'s behaviors had been difficult to handle. S.S.'s paternal relatives, however, were committed to adopting both minors and were visiting regularly. They have known K.L. and spent family time with her since before S.S. was born. The Department was awaiting the results of the home assessment and criminal screening.

By the January 4, 2011 hearing, the prospective adoptive parents had participated in overnight and extended holiday visits with the minors. K.L.'s enuresis and behaviors were fully disclosed to the prospective adoptive parents.*fn3 They remained committed to adopting the minors. The assessment process had been completed except for ...


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