In re Petition of T.G.M. & T.C.M., J.S., Appellant.
October 20, 2016
Decided November 18, 2016 [*]
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)
A. Colbert for J.S.
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.
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,
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
and ADJUDGED that the trial court's order is affirmed.
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
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. 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 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.
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