Mother (M) was an American citizen living in Mexico with her two sons AC
(age 6) and EC (age 15 months). Both of her sons were born in Mexico,
thus Mexican citizens. M never disclosed the name of the father(s) of her sons.
In May of 2015, M was deported from Mexico to the United States at the
San Ysidro, California Port of Entry (near San Diego, California). When
she appeared at the border, her two sons were with her. Unfortunately,
M appeared manic and acting irrationally (such as claiming to be telepathic),
and officers feared for the safety of her children. The officers contacted
the San Diego Police Department, and the police officers placed M under
a three-day psych evaluation hold. Her sons were placed at the Polinsky
Children’s Center (PCC).
On May 26, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency)
filed a Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300 juvenile dependency
hearing. Agency contended that M was not able to care for her sons because
of her current psychiatric condition and her recent past criminal history,
including attempting to bribe a police officer, carrying a concealed weapon,
and a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
The juvenile court ordered the children placed in foster care and set a
future hearing date for June 16. Prior to the June 16 hearing, Agency
recommended to the court that the children remain in foster care and reunification
efforts be made. At the June 16 hearing, M failed to appear. Agency requested
the court take temporary jurisdiction of the boys under the Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and then contact Mexico
to determine whether Mexico wanted to claim jurisdiction over the boys.
The court agreed with Agency and set the next hearing for July 15. During
this time, the court sent two e-mails and made numerous telephone calls
to Mexican judicial authorities regarding the boys’ status. However,
the Mexican authorities never responded.
At the July 15 hearing, the judge found that proper UCCJEA measures were
taken regarding the jurisdiction of the boys and ruled it now had jurisdiction
over the boys. M failed to appear at the hearing.
During the year 2015, the boys remained in foster care, and numerous attempts
were made for reunification, but M failed to meet the requirements needed
to regain custody of her sons. On May 23, 2016, the juvenile court terminated
M’s reunification services and a hearing was set for permanent placement
of the boys.
On February 14, 2017, M’s parental rights were terminated and the
boys were eligible for adoption. Their foster parents were willing to
adopt them. Although M did not appear at the hearing, she filed an appeal
stating the juvenile court did not have jurisdiction of her boys due to
their Mexican citizenship.
The Appellate Court agreed with the juvenile court stating that the juvenile
court’s actions to determine whether Mexican authorities wanted
to retain jurisdiction of the boys was were sufficient to take over jurisdiction
under the UCCJEA. The Appellate Court also agreed with the juvenile court
that its actions regarding M’s parental rights and subsequent adoptability
of the boys met the legal state requirements.