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Name: In re R.S.
Case #: A124021
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/30/2009

The juvenile court erred by circumventing voluntary designated adoption by terminating parental rights under section 366.26. The parents of the minor executed a relinquishment of parental rights pursuant to Family Code section 8700, designating the maternal aunt and uncle as the intended adoptive placement. Subsequently the juvenile court terminated their parental rights pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. The parents appealed from that order, contending that the juvenile court erred in holding the 366.26 hearing, terminating parental rights, and granting a request by the minor’s foster parents to be designated as prospective adoptive parents pursuant to section 366.26, subdivision (n). The father contended that the juvenile court order impermissibly interfered with the voluntary relinquishment the parents had already made to State Adoptions. The appellate court agreed and reversed the orders. Where birth parents have made a voluntary designated relinquishment which has become final before the setting of the 366.26 hearing, the relinquishment effectively precludes the need for a hearing to select a permanent plan pursuant to section 366.26. The orders issued here not only violated the parents rights under section 361, subdivision (b), but were also clearly prejudicial to the designation they had made under Family Code section 8700 naming the aunt and uncle as the intended adoptive placement. Reversal was therefore required.