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In Re A.S. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. I.Y.-S et al

September 28, 2011

IN RE A.S. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
I.Y.-S ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD229351, JD229352, JD229353)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

I.Y.-S. (mother) and A.S. (father)*fn1 appeal from the juvenile court's orders terminating their parental rights and ordering a permanent plan of adoption as to minors I.C., F.C., and A.S. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.26.)*fn2

The parents' arguments (either both or individually) can be summarized as follows: (1) Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services' (the Department) section 366.26 reports are not sufficient to support the finding of adoptability; (2) the minors are not adoptable based on the ages of the minors and the fact that the minors are part of a sibling group; (3) the juvenile court improperly placed the burden of proof on the parents to show the minors were not adoptable; and (4) the minors' wishes were not considered before parental rights were terminated. We find that there is sufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's finding of adoptability. While the ages of the minors and their sibling group are factors in determining adoptability, the individual characteristics of the minors and the willingness of the caretakers and maternal grandmother to adopt the minors support the finding of adoptability. And the father's argument challenging the burden of proof is deemed abandoned. With respect to the minors' wishes, we conclude that the juvenile court was informed about the minors' wishes to the extent they could be ascertained given the minors' young ages. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On March 10, 2009, the Department filed section 300 petitions as to I.C. (a 6-year-old female), F.C. (a 4-year-old male), and A.S. (a newborn male), alleging: Mother had a substance abuse problem from which she had not rehabilitated. A.S. tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. Mother's roommate used methamphetamine. Mother allowed a neighbor who had recently been paroled to provide daycare for the minors. Mother and F.O., biological father of A.S., had engaged in domestic violence, most recently on or about September 1, 2008.

Mother admitted she had used methamphetamine since age 13, most recently around five days before delivering A.S. She was married to father, who was incarcerated at Deuel Vocational Institution (as was F.O., A.S.'s biological father). Mother said that R.C., whom mother believed to be in Mexico, was the father of I.C. and F.C.

The jurisdiction/disposition report recommended that the juvenile court sustain the section 300 petitions, place the minors with the maternal great-aunt and great-uncle in Tulare, California, and offer services to the parents (to mother as to all the minors, to father as to A.S. only). No services were recommended for biological father F.O. or for R.C., recently deported to Mexico.

Mother admitted her problems with methamphetamine and domestic violence. She had begun the STARS program (a drug treatment program in Sacramento) to address her substance abuse and had enrolled in parenting classes.

Father remained incarcerated, with a projected release date in May 2009. He denied domestic violence and substance abuse. He wanted to reunify with the minors.

The older minors said father physically abused them and engaged in domestic violence with mother, with whom they wanted to live. Their foster parent said the minors were adjusting well in placement, but feared father.

The maternal great-aunt had known the older minors from infancy, but had not seen them since relocating to Tulare, three hours from Sacramento. She was open to caring for all three minors through adoption or guardianship if mother could not reunify with them.

At the jurisdiction/disposition hearings, the juvenile court sustained the allegations of the section 300 petitions, placed the minors with the maternal great-aunt and great-uncle, ordered services for mother as to all the minors and for father as to A.S., and made a no-contact order for father as to I.C. and F.C.

The permanency report, filed November 26, 2009, recommended terminating the parents' services and setting a section 366.26 hearing.

Father was incarcerated in Placer County jail and could not participate in services.

Mother was convicted of a drug possession offense in May 2009 and incarcerated in Yuba County, then deported to Mexico on November 17, 2009. Until her incarceration, she had visited the minors regularly, but had not completed the STARS program or domestic violence counseling. She still hoped to reunify with the minors; in the alternative, she wanted them to live with the maternal grandmother in Roseville or their current caretakers.

The minors, placed with the maternal great-aunt and great-uncle, were doing well, although I.C. and F.C. had been referred to counseling.

The maternal great-aunt and great-uncle stated they would adopt the minors if reunification failed. The maternal grandmother requested a reassessment of her home for possible placement of the minors.

An addendum report filed December 11, 2009, stated that the maternal grandmother's home had been approved for placement. I.C. and F.C. had begun counseling. The minors' counseling reports noted ...


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