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Name: In re Mary C.
Case #: A157256
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 05/04/2020
Summary

Substantial evidence supported the conclusion that the minors were likely to be adopted despite their special needs, where the caretakers who had been caring for them for 17 months wished to adopt them. Parents appealed from the termination of their parental rights, contending that substantial evidence did not support the findings that the minors were adoptable. They argued that the 3 and 5-year-old minors had too many special needs to be generally adoptable, and should not have been found specifically adoptable because the Department’s 366.26 report failed to contain sufficient information about the prospective adoptive mother, and contained no information at all about mother’s longtime partner who lives with her. The appellate court rejected the arguments, finding that any arguments based on the omissions from or deficiencies with the 366.26 report were forfeited by the failure to raise them in juvenile court. The court also found there was sufficient evidence to support the finding that the children were generally adoptable. Despite the minors’ many issues (developmental delays, vision problems, speech delays, obsessive behaviors, etc.) the fact that a prospective adoptive parent has expressed interest in adopting the minors is evidence that the children’s issues were not likely to deter other potential adoptive parents. An adoptive parent’s willingness to adopt generally indicates that the minor is likely to be adopted within a reasonable time either by the prospective adoptive parent or by some other family. Further, there was no reason to suspect the judge made the findings based solely on the social worker’s opinion that the minors were adoptable. The fact that the two minors were bonded to their caretaker is evidence of adoptability. The fact that their brother, who had even more significant problems, had been adopted, was evidence of their adoptability. Mother also argued that the 366.26 report’s assessment of the prospective adoptive parent did not address her understanding of the responsibilities of adoption. The court found mother’s challenge forfeited, as it was not raised below. Even if it were not forfeited, the caretaker had cared for the minors for 17 months. There was every indication that she knew exactly what was required to care for them. As to mother’s challenge that there was insufficient information about mother’s partner, the court noted that the partner had been there when the home was licensed as the minors’ foster home. There was no evidence of anything negative that should have been addressed regarding her partner, and he had been co-parenting the minors for 17 months.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A157256.PDF