At 366.26 hearing, the juvenile court has no affirmative duty to inquire of adoptive parents whether they would prefer guardianship. In an appeal from a parental rights termination under section 366.26, mother argued that the juvenile court erred when it selected adoption as the permanent plan absent evidence in the record that the prospective non-relative adoptive parent was advised and affirmatively rejected guardianship in favor of adoption. Mother had failed to appear at the 366.26 hearing, and the issue concerning guardianship had not been raised on her behalf. Since the issue was raised for the first time on appeal, the appellate court found the issue waived. It also held that if it were to consider the merits of mother’s challenge, it would find the trial court acted properly. The court declined to compel the juvenile court to engage in a colloquy with adoptive parents about whether they prefer guardianship when the legislative preference at this stage is adoption. Further, there is no statute or case requiring the juvenile court to make such an inquiry. Where, as here, all statutory requirements to terminate parental rights have been met, the prospective adoptive parent has been clear and consistent about her willingness to adopt, and the minor is thriving in the adoptive parent’s care and custody, there was no reason to derail the adoption.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B300065.PDF