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Name: In re Scott B.
Case #: B220526
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/10/2010
Summary

The order terminating parental rights is reversed where the minor was very bonded to the mother and terminating visits would have been detrimental to him. The eleven-year-old special-needs minor was very bonded to both his mother and his foster mother. Although he liked living with his foster mother, his preference would have been to live with his mother. Although he told the court he wanted to be adopted, his understanding of adoption was that it meant that he and the mother and the foster mother could do things together, without “other people.” The juvenile court acknowledged that the mother had visited regularly, the minor had a close relationship with her, and that she played a parental role to him. However, the court found that the benefits of this relationship did not outweigh the benefits of adoption, and terminated the mother’s parental rights, leaving visitation in the discretion of the foster mother. On appeal, the mother contended that adoption would have a negative effect on the minor, and that the court should have chosen legal guardianship. The appellate court agreed and reversed the order terminating parental rights. It was clear that the minor did not understand that his foster mother would have the right to cut off visitation with the mother. Given the minor’s strong emotional attachment to his mother and his precarious emotional state, it would be detrimental to him if his visitation with the mother did not continue. The only way to avoid serious emotional setback to him is for those visits to continue by court order. Termination of parental rights was unnecessary, given that a legal guardianship would provide the minor with stability.