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Name: In re Francisco D.
Case #: B251917
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/29/2014

Removal of minor was proper because adoptive mother’s abuse of his sibling created a substantial risk that minor would also be abused. Mother and the adoptive father adopted two siblings, Francisco and Fabiola in 2010. In 2013, Fabiola died. Francisco was detained by DCFS due to concerns about mother’s medical neglect of Fabiola. During the subsequent investigation, DCFS found a long history and pattern of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse of Francisco, Fabiola, and other foster children. The juvenile court sustained a petition and removed Francisco. On appeal, mother contended that the disposition order removing Francisco from her custody was not supported by the evidence. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. Mother systematically verbally, physically, and emotionally abused Fabiola. Based on this, there was substantial evidence to support a finding that Francisco was also at risk of abuse if he were left in the home. Mother also contended that because she was a member of an Indian tribe, ICWA must apply despite Francisco’s lack of membership and lack of a biological connection to a member. She argued that the definition of an Indian child under ICWA does not automatically exclude children who have been adopted by an adult with Indian ancestry. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that Francisco was neither a tribal member nor related to one by blood, and therefore did not fall under ICWA’s express definition of Indian child.