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In Re R.S., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. J.S

April 24, 2012

IN RE R.S., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
J.S., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. JD226514)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

J.S. (father) is the adoptive father of minor R.S. (born October 2007). Father appeals from an order of the juvenile court terminating his parental rights. Father contends the court erred by failing to find that the beneficial parental relationship exception to adoption applies to his case. As we explain, we disagree and shall affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Originating Circumstances

R.S. was detained from his biological parents shortly after his birth, suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome and with special needs. Father's wife, O.S. (mother), became R.S.'s caretaker. In October 2009, mother and father adopted R.S. Sadly, mother was diagnosed with leukemia only weeks later, and died in January 2010.

In November 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (Department) received an anonymous tip that mother was terminally ill and father was mentally unstable. Investigation revealed that father was suffering memory lapses that prevented him from changing R.S.'s diapers, removing R.S. from his high chair, bathing and feeding him regularly, and attending medical appointments.

In December 2009, the Department developed an informal services safety plan that involved friends coming to the home daily to assist mother with childcare. After mother's death, one of these friends reported that "no one was willing to take care of [R.S.] any further." She reported significant concerns about father's ability to care for R.S. Father was forgetting to change R.S.'s diapers and was unable to operate the dishwasher and washing machine. Further, father left R.S. in a urine-soaked car seat overnight, apparently forgetting he had a crib. Father was not feeding R.S. on a regular basis, nor was father changing R.S.'s clothing--at one point he was left in the same clothes all weekend. R.S. was placed in protective custody the day after this report.

An adoptions worker also expressed concern about father's mental condition. She had to write down everything that was said to him, as he did not remember even speaking to her, and sometimes when they were talking he would suddenly start speaking Spanish, which was not his first language. When writing, he would sometimes write letters backwards. Father was maintaining the temperature in the home so high that R.S. was sweating profusely and becoming dehydrated.

Formal Proceedings

In February 2010, the Department filed a petition alleging that father failed to provide for R.S.'s needs, based on the claims outlined ante. The juvenile court detained R.S. After a contested jurisdiction and disposition hearing in April 2010, the juvenile court sustained the petition, ordered R.S. removed, and ordered reunification services. Father was referred for a psychological evaluation to determine whether he could benefit from services in the reunification period allowed by law.

The psychological evaluation did not reveal "any conspicuous decline in cognitive functioning that would interfere with [father's] ability to benefit from [services]." However, the doctor expressed "some practical concerns about his stamina and his ability to keep up with an active toddler on a day-to-day basis. The wisdom associated with [his] desire at his age[*fn1 ] to take on the role of primary caretaker for a child with multiple special needs is questionable and is seen as further evidence of a deficit in his insight into his own limitations, but there is no evidence from a psychological perspective that he would have any more ...


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