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In Re N.H. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Debbie B

January 2, 2013


(Super. Ct. Nos. 10JVSQ2702902, 10JVSQ2703002, 10JVSQ2747202, 10JVSQ2846401, 11JVSQ2892001)

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

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Debbie B., mother of the minors, appeals from orders of the juvenile court terminating her parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 395.*fn1 ) Mother contends the finding that C.G. and K.G. were likely to be adopted within a reasonable time was not supported by substantial evidence because C.G. had exhibited aggressive behavior directed at K.G. in the past and K.G. required a high level of supervision. We conclude substantial evidence supports the trial court's finding of adoptability. Accordingly, we affirm the juvenile court's orders.*fn2


Because the issue on appeal is limited, the recitation of facts is limited to events that concern three of the minors who are currently placed together in the same prospective adoptive family: C.G., E.G., and K.G.

The minors, C.G., age 6, E.G., age 5, and K.G., age 22 months, were detained in April 2010 due to domestic violence between the parents that led to both mother and father being arrested.*fn3 The juvenile court ordered services in September 2010 but the parents failed to reunify and services were terminated in May 2011. In December 2010, K.G. was placed with C.G. C.G. had been in the placement since April 2010 and had ongoing behavioral problems often expressed by hitting peers and adults. After K.G. was placed in the same home as C.G., C.G. would intentionally hurt K.G. and wake K.G. when the family was asleep. C.G. also became increasingly destructive, i.e., slamming a bedroom door so hard that plaster fell from the walls. C.G. was in counseling to address his behaviors and, after a medication evaluation, the court authorized administration of methylphenidate in the form of Ritalin to treat his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. C.G. initially had a positive reaction to the medication but over time his assaultive behavior resumed. C.G. also had a serious lack of impulse control during sibling visits that made safety at visits a significant concern. A few weeks after K.G.'s placement, the foster parents asked that both minors be moved.

The report for the section 366.26 hearing scheduled for September 2011 addressed C.G., E.G., and K.G. and recommended a continuance for home finding. At the time of the report, the three minors were placed in separate homes and had weekly visits with each other. C.G. continued to be a high energy child but was showing significant improvement after a medication change to the Concerta form of methylphenidate in May 2011. The social worker described his progress as " 'amazing' " although his impulsivity still affected his school performance. K.G. continued to need a high degree of supervision and was referred to Far Northern Regional Center (FNRC) for evaluation of his unusual behavior such as eating nonfood items, destructive behaviors such as damaging walls and cabinets, and walking on tiptoes. FNRC denied eligibility, and a new referral for therapeutic services was made. Currently, K.G. was in counseling. The report stated there were many homes available and, while C.G. and K.G. had some behavioral challenges, "these should not be a barrier in identifying a family." The report further stated the three minors possessed characteristics that made them adoptable and there were families with the skills and desire to parent them.

The court adopted the recommendation and continued the case for home finding.

The report for the continued section 366.26 hearing recommended termination of parental rights as to C.G., E.G., and K.G. The three minors, who each had multiple placements over the course of the two dependency proceedings, were moved to a prospective adoptive home together in December 2011. The three minors had been in the placement about two months. C.G. was described as a high energy child who enjoyed outdoor sports and activities. C.G. was continuing on the medication Concerta to treat his ADHD and his caregivers reported he was doing well. C.G. was demonstrating appropriate social skills, followed directions, and was kind to the family pets and livestock. C.G. continued to have some distractibility in school and some sleep issues that were being addressed by his doctor. C.G. occasionally used inappropriate language but responded to redirection. K.G. continued to require a high level of supervision but had no behavioral problems at school. K.G. still showed some tiptoe walking and putting items in his mouth but stopped with a gentle reminder. The caregivers reported K.G. was an active, loving, inquisitive, and friendly child. The report stated the behavioral challenges were evident but improved, and C.G., E.G., and K.G. were adjusting to living as siblings in a new environment. The three minors were in generally good health and doing reasonably well in school.

The report further stated that the prospective adoptive parents were in their 50s and retired. They had an approved adoption home study and had two adopted children in the home in addition to the three minors. The report said the three minors were healthy, attractive, and delightful children with engaging personalities. Their behavioral challenges were not so severe as to impede adoption. All three minors were developing a relationship with the prospective adoptive parents and wished to be adopted. The prospective adoptive parents wanted to adopt the minors and were committed to them. The report further stated that, even if not adopted by this family, there were 25 potential families with approved home studies who were interested in children with similar characteristics. The three minors were experiencing stability and predictability in their current placement and their behavioral and developmental issues continued to improve.

At the section 366.26 hearing in March 2012, the parents submitted on the report. The court terminated parental rights and selected adoption as the ...

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