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In Re M.Q. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. U.Q

January 11, 2012


(Super. Ct. Nos. JD221168, JD228252) (Super. Ct. Nos. JD221167, JD228253)

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

In re M.Q. CA3


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Mother appeals from the juvenile court's orders: (1) denying her modification petition to return M.Q., T.S., S.S. and J.S. to her care, or in the alternative, to reopen reunification services; and (2) terminating her parental rights and selecting a permanent plan of adoption as to T.S. and S.S.*fn1 (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 388, 366.26, 395.)*fn2 We affirm.


The First Proceeding

In September 2004, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed section 300 petitions as to M.Q., age 6, and T.S., a newborn. The petitions alleged that both mother and T.S. had tested positive for amphetamine at T.S.'s birth, and that mother had smoked methamphetamine throughout her pregnancy. The petitions further alleged that mother had not obtained prenatal care, that T.S.'s alleged father, R.S., was in diversion for possession of methamphetamine, and that the whereabouts of M.Q.'s alleged father, J.A., were unknown.*fn3

According to the September 2004 detention report, mother and R.S. separated during mother's pregnancy. She lived with M.H., an unrelated extended family member and an alleged "father figure" to M.Q. Mother had referrals to Child Protective Services dating back to 1998. Mother was offered family maintenance services in 2003, but refused them. Although mother admitted drug use, she "[did] not believe that she ha[d] a problem with drugs."

At the detention hearing, the juvenile court found R.S. was T.S.'s presumed father.

According to the October 2004 jurisdiction/disposition report, mother was now admitting her drug problem. She began smoking methamphetamine at age 15 and recently was smoking it every other day. Father was her main supplier. She was referred for drug treatment services and drug testing. The report recommended out-of-home placement for M.Q. and T.S. and services for mother and R.S.

Father believed he was rehabilitating from his drug problem, but admitted he had used methamphetamine at or near the date of T.S.'s birth. He was under the influence of a controlled substance when interviewed. Father indicated that his relationship with mother centered around drugs and that he really did not know her that well outside of their drug use.

M.H. stated that M.Q. had lived with him since M.Q.'s birth because he did not believe mother could care for M.Q. M.H. stated that mother slept all day and ignored M.Q.'s needs, or cared for M.Q. while she was under the influence.

At the October 2004 jurisdiction/disposition hearing, the juvenile court sustained the allegations of the section 300 petitions as amended and made the recommended findings and orders.

The April 2005 permanency report indicated that M.H. had sexually molested M.Q.*fn4

At the permanency hearing held April 8, 2005, the juvenile court extended the parents' services, ordered no contact between M.Q., T.S. and M.H., and referred M.Q. and mother for counseling regarding the allegations of molestation.

In June 2005, the juvenile court placed M.Q. with mother under supervision, as had already been done with T.S.

The October 25, 2005 permanency review report recommended returning T.S. to her parents, who were again living together, and also returning M.Q. to mother, and terminating the dependency. The juvenile court terminated the dependency proceedings as to M.Q. and T.S. on October 18, 2005. T.S. was placed in the custody of mother and R.S.; M.Q. was placed in the custody of mother.

The Second Proceeding

On September 5, 2008, the Department filed section 300 petitions as to M.Q., now age nine, T.S., who was nearly four, and two new children--S.S., nearly two years old, and J.S., 10 months. The petitions alleged that in November 2007, mother gave birth to J.S. at home without medical assistance and neglected to take him to a doctor for a medical examination since his birth. The social worker observed that on multiple occasions, mother left the minors unsupervised while she slept. The minors were dirty and unkempt, and mother was not providing medical or dental care for them. In March 2008, she had signed a supervised case plan to treat her substance abuse, but had failed to utilize the services. She had missed 11 drug tests in April and May 2008, and did not test between June 3 and August 17. Despite the no-contact order against M.H. stemming from the previous allegations that he had sexually molested M.Q., mother had let him pick up M.Q. at school.

The September 2008 detention report stated that both parents were suspected of drug abuse. Nine-year-old M.Q. had last attended school on August 29, 2008. Mother had pulled him out of school approximately two weeks before the report and had not reenrolled him in another school. Mother disclosed that while M.Q. was in school, M.H. had been picking him up frequently.

At the initial hearing, the juvenile court found father was the adjudicated father of the three younger minors, who were released to him under supervision. At this time, the parents were again living separately. M.Q., who was not father's natural child, was detained.

The October 2008 jurisdiction/disposition report recommended sustaining the section 300 petitions. The parents had not yet tested for drugs and alcohol or been in contact with the Department. At that time, M.Q. wanted to return to mother's custody. The other minors were too young to interview.

An addendum report filed in November 2008 stated that the parents had denied all of the allegations against them, except that mother admitted allowing M.H. to pick up M.Q. three days a week from school. She was aware of the no-contact order, but claimed a subsequent order allowed contact. She denied that there was not any validity to the sexual misconduct allegation. Father said he was still concerned about the allegation, but that he had no control over mother and M.H. Both parents had been uncooperative with the social worker.

At the contested jurisdiction/disposition hearing in February 2009, the juvenile court sustained the allegations of the petitions, as amended, ordered out-of-home placement for the minors and reunification services for the parents, ordered psychotropic medication for T.S., and ordered M.H. to have no contact with M.Q.

A progress report filed in April 2009 stated that the parents had not drug tested since September 2008.

The August 2009 permanency report recommended further out-of-home placement for the minors and services for the parents. The parents were homeless and staying with friends. Father, who was still not drug testing, was arrested in April 2009 for driving under the influence of methamphetamine. Mother also had not been drug testing, had not completed her AOD (alcohol and other drugs) assessment, and had not kept on schedule in individual counseling. The parents had supervised visitation with the minors twice a week.

By now, M.Q. wanted to stay in his present foster home until he could reunify with the parents. The other minors were too young to ask about their wishes. When first detained in September of 2008, M.Q. had a difficult time controlling his anger in the foster home and in school. However, by the time of the August 2009 report, M.Q.'s behavior had improved at home and school. He was developmentally on target. He was receiving individual counseling.

J.S. had been placed with M.Q. According to the report, J.S. seemed happy. He was developmentally on target, but there were concerns he might be developmentally delayed, as he had a limited vocabulary. He was referred for further evaluation.

S.S. was still in her original foster home and doing well there. However, she appeared to have some developmental delays and was receiving regional center services.

T.S. had initially been placed with S.S., but was moved to a single-child home because of significant behavioral problems. Initially, she exhibited defiant behavior and was wetting her bed, but was slowly adjusting to her new placement with the help of psychotropic medications. As of this report, she had been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and impulse control disorder NOS (not otherwise specified).

At the permanency hearing on August 7, 2009, after learning that father was testing positive for methamphetamine and mother had not started testing, the juvenile court terminated the parents' services. The court thereafter set a contested section 366.26 hearing for December 4, 2009.

The December 2009 section 366.26 report recommended termination of parental rights and adoption as to S.S. The report also recommended adoption for the other minors, but stated that, as a sibling group with one member over age seven, they would be hard to place. The Department requested a 180-day continuance to locate prospective adoptive parents.

The parents' supervised visitation had been reduced to one hour per week. We discuss the quality of the visitations in more detail post.

M.Q. and J.S. had been placed together for 11 months. M.Q. wanted to stay with this foster family and did not want to be separated from his brother. However, he did not want to be adopted. He said he might accept legal guardianship.*fn5 The foster parents of the two minors were willing to become their legal guardians. M.Q. was still in individual ...

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