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Name: T.W. v. Superior Court (San Diego County)
Case #: D060636
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/31/2012

The juvenile court’s denial of a petition to remove the minor from his prospective adoptive home was an abuse of discretion where the court failed to adequately consider the criminal history of a foster sibling. The minor, T.W., sought review of a juvenile court order denying the petition of the Agency to remove him from the home of his prospective adoptive parent. He argued that the juvenile court abused its discretion when it found that removal from the home was not in the minor’s best interests. The Agency had sought removal of the minor from the prospective adoptive parent’s home because the prospective adoptive father had previously adopted a highly traumatized foster child who had committed a series of increasingly violent crimes, and was gang-involved. The appellate court found that under the circumstances, the juvenile court abused its discretion when it denied the Agency’s petition. The court did not give the appropriate weight to the legislature’s goal of securing an adoptive home for a dependent child that is free from the influences of criminal activity and providing maximum safety and security for the child. It also held that after a child has been placed in the home of a prospective adoptive parent, the Agency does not have the authority to change the placement unless it is mandated by law. The juvenile court retains the authority to determine whether removal from the home of the prospective adoptive parent is in the child’s best interests, and it must give considerable weight to the public policy against placement of a child in a home in which a family member has a criminal history or substance abuse problem, as well as the social worker’s opinion that the placement is not appropriate.