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In Re J.G., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. Jennifer F. et al

February 27, 2012

IN RE J.G., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JENNIFER F. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. No. JD227026)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Jennifer F. (mother) and Bobby G. (father) appeal from the juvenile court's order terminating their parental rights as to the minor, J.G. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.26.)*fn1 Mother contends the court (1) wrongly denied her section 388 petition, and (2) wrongly found the beneficial parental relationship exception to adoption inapplicable. Father raises no issues on his own behalf, but joins in mother's second contention. We shall affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 20, 2008, Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed a section 300 petition as to the almost two-and-a-half-year-old minor, alleging that mother's live-in boyfriend had severely beaten and threatened to kill mother, sometimes in the minor's presence. An amended petition further alleged: (1) mother also had a history of domestic violence with the alleged biological father, Bobby G., who was in county jail facing multiple felony charges; and (2) mother had a substance abuse problem, in that the minor tested positive for methamphetamine and opiates at birth.

The jurisdiction/disposition report stated that mother's live-in boyfriend had been charged with attempted murder, assault, and kidnapping, although she had recanted her charges against him. She had had other abusive domestic partners.

Mother had a criminal history including prostitution. She tested positive for methamphetamine and opiates when the minor was born.

According to mother, in childhood she was physically and sexually abused by family members. She was also born with a deformed foot, which was operated on 10 times beginning at 11 months of age; the operations removed more and more of her leg and left her in constant pain. The pain and the sexual abuse together had "a devastating impact on her emotional stability." She became a dependent of the juvenile court at the age of 15.

Mother admitted past use of alcohol and marijuana, but denied current problems with them. Methamphetamine had been her drug of choice since she was 18.

Mother reported diagnoses of depression and bipolar disorder, but claimed her mental health was stable.

Mother's primary care physician reported she had a long history of depression "related to status post lower extremity amputation . . . and Chronic Pain Syndrome related to a poorly fitting prosthesis." He had prescribed multiple pain medications; he was not concerned that she might become dependent on them. Although he considered her psychologically fragile, he believed her to be an excellent parent.

At the jurisdictional and dispositional hearings in June 2008, the juvenile court sustained the amended section 300 petition.*fn2 The court placed the minor in foster care and ordered reunification services for mother.

At the six-month review hearing in October 2008, the juvenile court ordered six more months of services for mother.

The 12-month review report recommended terminating mother's services. It alleged that mother was using crack cocaine, living with a boyfriend who also used it, and prostituting herself. Her visitation was once more supervised. She had had administrative dirty drug tests and had become hard to reach.

At the 12-month review hearing in April 2009, the juvenile court terminated mother's services and set a section 366.26 hearing.

The section 366.26 report, filed in August 2009, recommended continued out-of-home placement with the minor's current caregiver and a goal of legal guardianship. The current caregiver was not recommended as a legal guardian because she was not properly managing the minor's problems of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), speech delays, and extreme aggression toward other children.

Mother reported she was no longer seeing her former live-in boyfriend and had a restraining order against him. She said she was in school four days a week, doing paralegal studies. She continued to have supervised visitation with the minor, to which he looked forward eagerly. The Department thought the minor would benefit from continuing his relationship with her.

On August 13, 2009, the juvenile court found that termination of mother's parental rights would be detrimental to the minor. The court ordered continued placement with the caregiver and a goal of legal guardianship, along with continued visitation for mother.

On August 21, 2009, the Department filed a section 387 petition to remove the minor from his current caregiver. The juvenile court sustained the petition, ordered the minor removed from his placement and set a section 366.26 hearing.

On March 29, 2010, mother filed a section 388 petition requesting the reinstatement of services. She alleged she had participated in services on her own and had visited the minor as regularly as permitted. She also alleged she would graduate with a degree in paralegal studies in May 2011, continued to attend NA/AA support group meetings, had support from a church fellowship, and regularly attended a "women's recovering group."

The Department's new section 366.26 report, filed April 19, 2010, recommended a 180-day continuance for further assessment as to services and home finding.

The report stated that mother had supervised visits with the minor once every two weeks for two hours, during which she had to continually redirect his behavior. The foster mother said the minor did not request visits or talk about mother. Although the minor (now in preschool) had improved in his speech, he remained impulsive, aggressive, and angry. The foster mother had not committed to adopting him. He was not generally adoptable due to his "extreme" special needs and troubled behavior, which needed "highly sophisticated parenting." While mother loved him, her history showed inadequate parenting skills; therefore, the Department did not recommend reinstating her services.

On April 29, 2010, the juvenile court denied mother's section 388 petition.

On June 15, 2010, the juvenile court authorized the administration of psychotropic medication to the minor.

On August 25, 2010, mother requested a bonding assessment, and the court subsequently ordered it done.

On October 4, 2010, mother filed a new section 388 petition, making the same request as before.*fn3 She now alleged: (1) she and the minor were very closely bonded, as the Department had acknowledged; (2) she had worked hard to establish a life of sobriety and to address all the flaws in her lifestyle to become a better parent; (3) she had completed parenting classes and counseling and had become a "parent leader" at the Meadowview Family Resource Center; (4) her visits were temporarily increased to once a week, and the social worker, after observing a visit, had been very impressed; (5) although the visits had been reduced to once a month, they remained appropriate and loving, with no concerns noted.*fn4

An addendum report filed October 15, 2010, recommended terminating parental rights and choosing a permanent plan of adoption. Mother continued to visit the minor regularly, the visits continued to go very well, and the minor's foster parent had decided against adoption. But the Department had located a new foster parent who wanted to adopt the minor, and he had been moved into her home on September 10, 2010.

The potential adoptive parent had adopted and successfully raised three children with greater special needs than the minor's, while preserving lifelong relationships with the children's biological families. She had shown great skill and ability in dealing with the minor. His behavior in kindergarten was improving, with the help of increased medication and the foster mother's regular presence at school. He already related to her as a parent, spoke about being part of her family and growing up in ...


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