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In Re Ronin D., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Alicia O

April 18, 2013

IN RE RONIN D., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. AMANDA D., PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT,
v.
ALICIA O., OBJECTOR AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. SAD0003019)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Alicia O., the mother of three-year-old Ronin D., appeals from an order of the Placer County Superior Court freeing Ronin from her custody and control and terminating her parental rights. (Fam. Code,*fn1 § 7822, subd. (a)(3).) The court found that mother, with intent to abandon Ronin, had left him in the care and custody of his father, James D., for more than a year while maintaining only token communication with Ronin and providing him only token and de minimis support. (Ibid.)

On appeal, mother contends (1) the trial court failed to consider whether Ronin's interests required the appointment of independent counsel, and (2) the court failed to read and consider the investigation report. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Mother and father met at a 12-step program and moved in together. Within a few months, he suspected that she had resumed using drugs. Mother moved out of their shared residence, but she returned when father learned that she was pregnant with Ronin. They lived together with a single father, Patrick F., and his young daughter.

Ronin was born in June 2009. Father again suspected that mother was using drugs, and he again asked her to leave. In August 2009, when Ronin was about two months old, mother left Ronin with father. She moved, first, to the residence of some friends; and then to the residence of her parents. That same month, father filed in family law court for sole legal and physical custody of Ronin.

For a few months after mother and father separated, she babysat Ronin at his residence while father was at work. Mother brought no food or baby supplies for the child. Mother proved to be unreliable; items, including Patrick F.'s prescription medication, were missing after mother's visits. In October 2009, after mother failed a drug test and failed to attend co-parenting classes and mediation, the family law court granted father's request for sole legal and physical custody of Ronin.

The family law court awarded mother generous visitation rights with Ronin while she was undergoing rehabilitation for drugs. In July 2010, after mother spent months going in and out of rehabilitation programs and jail, the family law court reduced mother's visitation to one supervised three-hour visit per week. Following the court's order, the maternal grandparents had two visits with Ronin in September 2010, but mother did not attend. Mother had just two one-hour visits with Ronin, on October 3, 2010, and on December 9, 2010. Thereafter, mother did not request another visit. She telephoned the visitation monitoring agency and left a message stating she would call again, but she did not do so. Ronin was 18 months old when he last saw mother.

Ronin has lived with father since birth. After mother's last visit with Ronin in December 2010, father allowed the maternal grandparents to visit Ronin because he wanted the child to have a relationship with his grandparents.

Father met petitioner Amanda D. in late 2009. She visited with Ronin during her visits with father. Amanda began residing with father and Ronin when Ronin was 10 months old. From that point on, Amanda has acted as Ronin's mother, doing all the things mothers do for their children such as feeding him, bathing him, and reading stories to him. Amanda and father married in January 2011 and, several months later, gave Ronin a half brother, Rayden. Ronin loves Rayden. Amanda decided to adopt Ronin because she wanted to ensure that Ronin would remain with her and Rayden if anything were to happen to father.

In March 2012, Amanda filed a petition for stepparent adoption of Ronin. She also filed a petition to declare Ronin free from mother's custody and ...


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