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Name: In re Harry N.
Case #: B145977
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 11/28/2001
Subsequent History: None

The minor was removed from his biological mother at birth, and placed with a foster family who wished to adopt him. The minor’s paternal aunt and uncle, who lived in Puerto Rico, also wished to adopt him. The Department wanted placement with the aunt and uncle, whose social study had been delayed due to their residence outside California. The minor, who had lived with the foster family for a year by the time of the 366.26 hearing, was bonded to that family. The Court ordered that the minor was to remain with the foster family and not to be moved absent a court order. The appellate court here reversed. Absent an abuse of discretion, the Department has the authority to place dependent children in an adoptive home following termination of parental rights. The statutory preference for the caretaker family is simply that their application shall be processed and considered before others, not that they will automatically become the adoptive family. Here, the decision by the Department to place the minor with his paternal relatives was not arbitrary or capricious, so the juvenile court exceeded its own powers by ordering otherwise.