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

January 8, 2013


(Super. Ct. No. J35338)

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

In re A.M.



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

R.M. (mother) appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights as to A.M. (minor). (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 § 366.26.) She contends that the trial court erred by finding the beneficial parental relationship exception to terminating parental rights did not apply. We disagree and shall affirm.


Petition and Early Proceedings

On May 25, 2010, Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services (the Department) filed a section 300 petition as to four-year-old minor, alleging that mother's substance abuse problem put minor at risk. Mother had recently tested positive for methamphetamine. She had lost custody of minor's half sister, Marisol G., in 2003 due to methamphetamine abuse, and her parental rights had been terminated in 2006. When minor's half brother, Daniel A. (Daniel), was born in December 2009, mother and Daniel tested positive for methamphetamine; he had been in foster care since January 2010. The identity and whereabouts of minor's father were unknown.

The Department alleged further that when Daniel was detained from mother, minor was required under the Department's safety plan to be living with Daniel's paternal grandmother, who was also minor's godmother--this was the reason minor was not also detained from mother at the same time as was Daniel. At the time of minor's detention, minor was suspected to be living with mother again, and Daniel's father, Mario A., who had moved out but then moved back in with mother, was testing positive or failing to test for methamphetamine, as was mother.

In June 2010, the juvenile court found that minor came within its jurisdiction and detained him. Minor was placed in a foster home with Daniel. At a consolidated disposition hearing as to minor and six-month review hearing as to Daniel held on July 27, 2010, the juvenile court ordered reunification services for mother, but terminated them for Daniel's father.

Six-Month Review Hearing

The Department recommended terminating mother's services and setting a section 366.26 hearing as to both minor and Daniel in a status review report filed December 23, 2010. According to the report, minor and Daniel, still placed together, were closely bonded, and their foster parents were willing to provide permanency for them if reunification failed.

Minor was developmentally on track, but having difficulty in kindergarten; an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) had been requested. He was adjusting well in placement, but felt anxious about mother's visits and her well-being in general. Mother had relapsed on methamphetamine several times, had developed an immune system disorder, and had suffered several bouts of illness; partly for these reasons, her participation in services and visitation had been minimal. She continued to see Daniel's father every day, which the Department considered one of mother's multiple "inappropriate relationships with active drug users." She was not taking prescribed medication for mental health problems and was not treating her immune-suppressive condition. She had tested positive for methamphetamine four times since mid-August 2010, although she now claimed to have gone three weeks since her last use. Her visitation had been inconsistent, with numerous missed visits, although the visits went well when she attended. Because of her inability to stay drug-free or to follow up with medical treatment, her lack of regular contact with minor and Daniel, and her failure to make significant progress in services, minor's risk if returned to her would be "very high."

On February 3, 2011, the juvenile court terminated mother's services as to Daniel only and set a 12-month ...

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