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Name: In re R.H.
Case #: B282855
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 01/31/2018

Tribe’s failure to offer input or intervene in dependency proceedings supported court’s finding of good cause to depart from ICWA placement preferences. R.H., an Indian child, was placed in a foster home after removal from mother. Although the Department made continued efforts to contact the minor’s Tribe, the Tribe failed to offer input regarding the minor’s placement plan. The court found R.H. adoptable and found good cause to depart from the ICWA placement preferences. On appeal, mother contended that the court erred in finding good cause to depart from the placement preferences, and asked the court to take as additional evidence a letter from the Tribe received by appellate counsel three months after the judgment was rendered, stating that the Tribe wished to be involved in the case. The Tribe did not move to intervene. The appellate court found mother’s claim forfeited, and denied her request to consider the Tribe’s letter as additional evidence. Claims that the court failed to comply with statutory provisions that do not relate to the court’s jurisdiction to act under ICWA may be forfeited on appeal if not raised below. Even if mother had preserved the claim, it would fail. The Tribe never appeared in the matter, despite continued efforts to obtain the tribe’s input, and four court hearings. The juvenile court could implicitly conclude that the Tribe had no interest in participating in the determination of the permanent plan. Further, the minor had never had any contact with the Tribe and was bonded to his prospective adoptive parents, with whom he had lived since he was four months old.