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In Re N.P. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. L.D. et al

May 2, 2013

IN RE N.P. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
L.D. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD231278, JD231277)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nicholson , Acting P. J.

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Mother, Heather B., appeals the termination of her parental rights to her son and daughter.*fn1 Mother contends the juvenile court erred in finding the beneficial parental relationship exception to adoption did not apply. We find no error and affirm.

BACKGROUND

In 2010, mother gave birth to daughter who tested positive for amphetamines. Mother admitted to using methamphetamine, crank, uppers, diet pills and speed in the past. She also admitted using methamphetamine during her pregnancy. As part of an informal supervision agreement, mother agreed to participate in substance abuse treatment and parenting education. During the voluntary supervision period, mother tested positive for drugs and failed to attend drug treatment. In January 2011, the children were temporarily placed with their great uncle due to mother's drug use.

The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed petitions under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b),*fn2 alleging mother had a substance abuse problem dating back to at least 2006 from which she had not rehabilitated; mother continued to use drugs; mother used methamphetamine during the gestation of both children; and, despite her agreement to participate in informal supervision services, mother continued to use drugs and refused treatment. In April 2011, the court found the allegations true and declared the children dependents. Son, almost five, and daughter, almost nine months old, were placed together in a foster home. Reunification services and regular visitation were ordered for mother. No reunification services were offered to son's father or daughter's alleged father.

The children were engaging, social and developing well. There were some concerns about son's bedwetting and speech delays, but overall both children were developmentally on target. Son had had some problems with temper tantrums which resolved in the foster home.

As of July 2011, mother completed residential treatment and moved into transitional housing. The children had weekend overnight visits with mother beginning in September 2011. Daughter was excited to see mother. Son also looked forward to seeing her, greeting her with hugs and kisses. Son separated easily, but counted down the days between visits. Although mother had made strides in her recovery, the Department was concerned about her dishonesty about where she was visiting with the children. Nonetheless, mother had a strong bond with the children and consistently maintained contact with the foster family about the children. During visits, she appeared very connected with the children. Housing was mother's primary obstacle to reunification. An additional six months of reunification services were ordered for mother, with the goal of placing the children with her once she obtained suitable housing. On October 18, 2011, mother found suitable housing and the children were placed with her with continued supervision.

The Department filed section 387 supplemental petitions on January 24, 2012. Between October 2011 and January 2012 mother repeatedly left the children with risky caretakers who had engaged in domestic violence in front of the children, despite being told not to leave the children in those circumstances and being provided with an alternate safety plan. The violence included the maternal aunt, Brandy, slicing her boyfriend, Allen, with a knife over the eyebrow and the boyfriend breaking a window out of the apartment while the children were present. Allen was on parole for drug related charges and domestic violence charges. There was also a restraining order in place against him. Mother had agreed not to leave the children with Brandy or allow any contact with Allen, but she repeatedly failed to comply with this agreement which put the children at substantial risk of harm. The children were again removed from mother. Upon being confronted about these allegations, mother adamantly denied them. She lied about Allen living in the house, lied about daughter's alleged father visiting at the house and lied about being pregnant.

The social worker reported mother had a bond with her children and a desire to learn to be a better parent. However, mother had little actual protective capacity as a parent and continued to allow risky people to be around the children. Mother also regularly lied and failed to follow safety plans.

The children were doing well in their foster home, although son continued to have some bedwetting problems. They had supervised visits with their mother twice a week. The children did not cry when leaving mother and son would ask when they were going home to the foster home. But, son also stated he loved his mother and missed her.

Supervised visitation continued twice a week. At one visit, daughter had an uncontrollable tantrum and mother was unable to calm her. The social worker took daughter to foster mother and foster mother was able to calm daughter immediately. Son would ask what days his visits with mom were, but otherwise did not ask about her. Both children left the visits and ...


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