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A.M. v. Superior Court (San Bernardino County Children & Family Services)

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

June 8, 2015

A. M., Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY et al., Respondents SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Real Party in Interest.

[CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]]

PURPORTED APPEAL from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County. No. J213187 Cheryl C. Kersey, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Sharon S. Rollo, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondents

Jean-Rene Basle, County Counsel, Jeffrey L. Bryson and Jamila Bayati, Deputy County Counsel, for Real Party in Interest.

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OPINION

RAMIREZ, P. J.

A.M., now aged eight, was born with severe genetic defects that left him deaf, blind, and lacking cognitive functioning. He has been a dependent of the juvenile court almost since birth; when he was four, parental rights were terminated. All through his young life, he has been cared for by professionals at a health care facility. Now, however, the juvenile court has approved his placement for adoption with a woman in Northern California who has a history of adopting children with special health care needs.

Minor’s counsel has appealed on A.M.’s behalf. In the published portion of this opinion, we will hold that under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.28, which restricts the appealability of a specific placement order after parental rights have been terminated, the challenged order is nonappealable; however, we find good cause to exercise our discretion to deem the failed appeal to be a writ petition. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we will hold that the adoptive placement was not an abuse of discretion.

I

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

C.M. (the father) impregnated his daughter K.M. (the mother) when she was 14 years old. As a result, in October 2006, San Bernardino County Children and Family Services (CFS) filed a dependency petition regarding the mother. In January 2007, the mother was adjudicated a dependent.

When A.M. was born, in February 2007, he suffered from softening of the brain, cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, and seizures. Initially, doctors believed this was due to an “intrauterine insult.” Eventually, however, they came to believe it was more likely due to “the summation of several different genetic disorders” resulting from “parental consanguinity.”[1]

The mother was unable to care for A.M. When he was ready to be discharged, CFS detained him and filed a dependency petition regarding him. He was placed at Bain House, an intermediate care facility for developmentally disabled children with a nursing component (ICF/DD N) operated by Mountain Shadows Special Kids Homes (Mountain Shadows).

In April 2007, at the jurisdictional hearing, the juvenile court sustained jurisdiction based on failure to protect (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subd. (b)),

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sexual abuse (id., § 300, subd. (d)), failure to support (id., § 300, subd., (g)) and abuse of a sibling (id., § 300, subd. (j)). At the dispositional hearing, it formally removed A.M. from his parents’ custody. It ordered reunification services for the mother but denied them for the father.

In October 2007, at the six-month review hearing, the juvenile court terminated reunification services and set a permanency planning hearing pursuant to Welfare and ...


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