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In re Petition of T.G.M.

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

March 9, 2017

In re Petition of T.G.M. & T.C.M., J.S., Appellant.

          Argued October 20, 2016

          Decided November 18, 2016 [*]

         Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (ADA-30-14&ADA-31-14) (Hon. Florence Y. Pan, Associate Judge, and Hon. Errol R. Arthur, Magistrate Judge)

          Ronald A. Colbert for J.S.

          Ilana B. Gelfman for T.G.M. and T.C.M., with whom Jessica Kurtz and Melissa Colangelo for Children's Law Center, guardian ad litem for Ja.S. and E.S., were on the brief for appellees.

          Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, and Rhondalyn Primes Okoroma, Assistant Attorney General, filed a statement in lieu of brief for the District of Columbia.

          BEFORE: Glickman and Beckwith, Associate Judges; and Belson, Senior Judge.

         JUDGMENT

         This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the trial court's order is affirmed.

          Per Curiam

         Appellant J.S. appeals the order of the Superior Court waiving his consent to the adoption of his biological children, Ja.S. and E.S., by their foster parents, T.G.M. and T.C.M. (the Ms), and granting T.G.M. and T.C.M.'s petitions for adoption. He argues that the trial court erred in finding him to be an unfit parent for Ja.S. and E.S., that the trial court erred in finding that he was withholding his consent to T.G.M. and T.C.M.'s adoption of Ja.S. and E.S. contrary to the best interests of the children, and that the trial court erroneously failed to give weighty consideration to J.S.'s choice of custodian for his children. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the trial court's order.

         I.

         Ja.S. was born in 2002, and her brother, E.S., was born in 2004. For most of their lives, Ja.S. and E.S. lived with their mother, Ed.S.[1] In June 2013, Ja.S. and E.S. were removed from Ed.S.'s care due to allegations of neglect, and the children were placed in the custody of their father, J.S., pursuant to a protective- supervision[2] order. In September 2013, J.S. was arrested for heroin distribution, in violation of the terms of the protective-supervision order. J.S. was released to a halfway house pending trial in the drug case, but he absconded in October and went "on the run." Since J.S. could not care for them, Ja.S. and E.S. were placed in foster care, in the custody of T.C.M., who is J.S.'s cousin, and her husband, T.G.M.

         In February 2014, the Ms filed petitions to adopt Ja.S. and E.S. An adoption trial was held in late September and early October 2014 before Magistrate Judge Errol Arthur. J.S., who had been rearrested and was incarcerated at the time of the trial, opposed the Ms' petitions and proposed that the court place Ja.S. and E.S. with his mother (the children's grandmother), K.S. Judge Arthur granted the Ms' petitions. Judge Arthur found that J.S. and Ed.S. were unfit parents, that J.S. and Ed.S. had abandoned Ja.S. and E.S., that J.S. and Ed.S. were withholding their consents to the Ms' adoption of Ja.S. and E.S. against the children's best interests, that K.S. had abandoned her motion for guardianship and thus was not a potential alternative caregiver for Ja.S. and E.S., and that even if he were to give weighty consideration to K.S. as a potential caregiver, he would find that it would clearly be against the best interests of the children to be placed with her. Upon ...


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