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Name: Adoption of I.M.
Case #: B255038
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 12/05/2014

The trial court properly ordered the stepfather’s adoption of the minor to proceed in nonconsenting father’s absence. Stepfather filed a petition requesting an order freeing the minor, I.M., from her father’s custody and control so that he could adopt her. Father was incarcerated and had not had contact with the minor since 2006. Father opposed the motion and filed a motion under Penal Code section 2625 to be transported to the hearing. Father was not present for the hearing but had communicated with opposing counsel regarding his inability to be present and his understanding that the matter had been continued for a settlement. Father’s counsel appeared at the hearing. The trial court found that father was a parent within the meaning of section 8604, subdivision (b) in that he had left the minor with mother for a period greater than a year, and had not supported her. The court ordered that the consent of father was not necessary for the adoption to proceed; however, the court did not order transportation of father for the hearing. On appeal, father contended that the trial court erred by failing to issue a removal order for his transport to court and proceeding in his absence. The appellate court rejected the argument. The court did not have a mandatory obligation under Penal Code section 2625 to order father’s transport to court. Although it had the discretion to make that order, father did not show an abuse of discretion, especially given that father had the appointed counsel of his choice and counsel was present at the hearing. The court also rejected father’s argument that there was no finding of an intent to abandon under section 7822. The court did not terminate father’s rights under section 7822. It found that father’s consent was not necessary for the adoption to proceed under section 8604. “Abandonment” is not an issue in stepparent adoption under section 8604.