The five-year-old minor was placed in protective custody in January 2010 after he was discovered living with his mother and her boyfriend in a trailer deemed uninhabitable due to numerous health and safety hazards. In January 2010, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a petition seeking jurisdiction over the minor pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (b) and (j).
The parents have an extensive child welfare history. Of the mother’s seven children, all but the minor tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. The mother lost custody of her other six children due to her drug use. In April 2004, the juvenile court sustained a dependency petition for the minor pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (b) and (j), based on the parents’ substance abuse. The dependency was terminated in November 2004 after appellant and the mother completed services and reunified with the minor. The juvenile court sustained another dependency petition in November 2005, after the mother was found with a syringe loaded with methamphetamine within reach of the minor’s car seat, at which time the mother and appellant were incarcerated. The dependency was terminated in October 2006 after the parents reunified with the minor.
Appellant had been the minor’s sole caregiver since the child was one-and-a-half years old. Even though appellant knew the mother’s history of methamphetamine abuse, he placed the minor with the mother in September 2009 when he turned himself in to prison. He wanted to leave the minor with his girlfriend, but the mother threatened to call the police if he did.
Appellant has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1984, with numerous felony convictions for drug and theft-related offenses. He was serving a three-year prison term for felony vehicle theft when the petition was filed in 2010.
The minor was placed in a foster home following his detention. According to the foster father, the minor was a bright child, but could count only to four and did not know the alphabet. He alternated between being a sweet, loving child, and angry and hostile with a large vocabulary of swear words. The minor was terrified to leave the foster home and told the foster father that appellant would “kill” him. Seeing the foster father wearing a belt, the minor asked him: “Are you going to hit me with that?”
The foster father said the minor always had dark circles under his eyes, along with serious anger, self-esteem, and fear issues. The minor was seeing a behavioral therapist for numerous issues, including: bed wetting, pants wetting, aggressiveness, swearing, tantrums, yelling, spitting, lack of social skills, fear of the toilet and the dark, nightmares, irritability, teasing others, whining, repetitiveness, anxiety, arguing, back-talking, defiant behaviors, learning appropriate peer interaction, multiple redirection, fascination with soap and water, and fear of someone coming to get him.
The minor told the foster father that appellant “can kick your ass.” According to the mother, the minor was afraid of the toilet after appellant “beat the heck out of him” for causing the toilet to overflow. The foster father witnessed the minor’s fear of the toilet; every time the minor flushed the toilet he would say “oh no the water, the water” and was scared to sit on the toilet.
DHHS filed an amended dependency petition (§ 300) in March 2010. The petition alleged the mother’s history of drug use, DHHS’s inability to locate her, appellant’s incarceration, and the mother’s child welfare history.
The minor was interviewed by a social worker in March 2010. According to the minor, appellant, whom he calls “Bobbie,” “calls me an idiot and a dummy and he says `you’re not in charge.'” When the minor gets in trouble, appellant “beats me up and kicks me out of the house.” The minor stated “Bobbie kicked me out of the car . . . with his feet and punched me, right after I told him I loved him.” On one occasion, the minor tried to hug appellant, who responded by pushing him away really hard. The minor said this made him feel “bad” and hurt his feelings.
The minor related an incident where appellant pulled out a knife and tried to “kill everyone,” and attempted to cut the minor. He once saw appellant choke his mother, causing the minor to choke appellant in return. Asked with whom he wanted to live, the minor answered his mother, her boyfriend, appellant, and his foster father, all in the same home, because he loves everyone. However, he wanted to live with the foster father the most.
The minor’s therapist said the child had “no learned social skills at all.” The minor was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There was a significant change in the minor’s behavior after he started taking Ritalin, allowing him to sit for 25 to 30 minutes at a time and stay focused on school work. The therapist recommended against visits with appellant as it could jeopardize the minor’s placement with the foster father by causing a spike in the minor’s behavioral issues.
The therapist related that the minor had nightmares one to three times a week, and thinks ghosts are talking to him and trying to kill him. According to the therapist, the minor had “street smarts but his social skills are at a three year old’s level.” He had limited verbal skills, used only swear words to express himself, and did not process very well.
The minor’s teacher believed he had been severely abused; he had a fear of abandonment and would flinch when people moved too quickly. The teacher was aware of the PTSD diagnosis and recalled a time in class when the minor said, for no reason, “don’t call me a liar.” The teacher described this behavior as a flashback. The minor would say things around other children such as, “I’m stupid, look at me; I’m an idiot.” The teacher had never seen such an extreme case and thought it would take years to undo the damage caused to the minor.
The juvenile court sustained the amended petition in April 2010. Reunification services were denied, and the juvenile court set a selection and implementation hearing. (§ 366.26.) The juvenile court ordered no contact between appellant and the minor.
The August 2010 selection and implementation report stated the minor refers to the foster father as his “dad.” The foster father continued to work with the minor on his behavioral issues, and was committed to adopting him. The minor, who was thriving in the foster father’s care, was considered generally adoptable because of his age and health.
The appellant filed a petition for modification in August 2010, seeking reinstatement of reunification services. The petition was denied later that month.
At the September 2010 selection and implementation hearing, appellant denied abusing the minor, objected to the denial of his section 388 petition without a hearing, and asserted the beneficial parental relationship exception to adoption. The juvenile court terminated parental rights.