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In Re Nathaniel S. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Sandy S

February 19, 2013


(Super. Ct. Nos. JD225677, JD225678, JD231875, JD231876)

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

In re Nathaniel S.



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Sandy S., the mother of seven-year-old K., six-year-old Nathaniel, five-year-old C., and two-year-old Bella, appeals from an order of the Sacramento County Juvenile Court finding the children were likely to be adopted, approving adoption as the permanent plan, and terminating her parental rights.*fn1

On appeal, mother contends the order terminating her parental rights must be reversed because (1) the juvenile court erred in failing to apply the beneficial relationship exception to adoption, and (2) the record does not reflect that the social worker made an inquiry regarding the relative caretaker exception to adoption. On the first contention, we conclude the record supports the juvenile court's finding the beneficial relationship exception did not apply. Further, mother has not identified any evidence in the record showing the juvenile court's finding lacks evidentiary support. Thus, mother has not met her burden of proving the beneficial parental relationship exception to adoption applies. As to the second contention, we conclude mother has forfeited this contention. Even if not forfeited, we reject mother's contention on the merits. Accordingly, we affirm the juvenile court's orders.


Prior Dependency Proceeding

In March 2007, Nathaniel and K. were placed into protective custody because, on multiple occasions, mother tested positive for methamphetamine or failed to test and she failed to comply with informal supervision services. The children were detained in the home of the maternal grandmother.

The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (Department) filed petitions alleging Nathaniel and K. came within Welfare and Institutions Code section 300*fn2 because (1) mother had a substance abuse problem involving methamphetamine and (2) she signed a voluntary informal supervision agreement and failed to participate in services. The juvenile court ordered the children detained.

In April 2007, the maternal grandmother's home was found no longer suitable for Nathaniel and K. The Department placed the children in foster care.

At the jurisdiction and disposition hearing in June 2007, the juvenile court sustained the petitions, placed Nathaniel and K. in the home of Nathaniel's paternal grandparents, and ordered reunification services.

In December 2007, mother gave birth to C. He was not removed from her custody and was residing with her in transitional housing.

At the six-month review in December 2007, the juvenile court continued Nathaniel and K.'s out-of-home placement.

In a report for the 12-month review hearing, the social worker stated that, based on mother's completion of her case plan, the Department was recommending return of Nathaniel and K. to mother's care. At the review hearing in May 2008, the juvenile court returned Nathaniel and K. to mother.

In a report for an in-home review hearing, the social worker opined the children would be at low risk under mother's continued care. Thus, the social worker recommended the dependency be terminated. At the review hearing in January 2009, the juvenile court terminated the dependency.

Present Dependency Proceeding -- Originating Circumstances

In April 2010, Bella was born. Both mother and the child tested positive for methamphetamine. As a result, the Department gave mother informal supervision and she completed the program.

On September 27, 2011, Child Protective Services (CPS) received a referral that mother had been arrested for possession of methamphetamine. The next day, during an investigation of the CPS referral, mother did not respond to the social worker's knocking on the front door. The worker sought assistance from the Sacramento Police Department. The worker also received a telephone call from the paternal aunt, informing her that mother was hiding in her bedroom with the children.

Mother did not respond when the officer knocked on the front door. He determined forced entry was necessary. During an interview following the entry, mother acknowledged to the social worker that, three or four weeks earlier, she had started selling methamphetamine and resumed using the drug. Mother admitted that, the previous day, she had been arrested for possession of methamphetamines and later released from custody.

According to the paternal grandmother, mother was selling drugs and allowing drug users in and out of the home.


In October 2011, the Department filed section 300, subdivision (b), petitions on behalf of Nathaniel and K. and filed section 300, subdivisions (b) and (j), petitions on behalf of C. and Bella. Both petitions alleged mother had a substance abuse problem from which she failed or refused to rehabilitate; the problem impairs her ability to care for and supervise the children; mother used methamphetamine while C. ...

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