Adoption of Allison C.
California Court of Appeal
164 Cal. App. 4th 1004, 79 Cal. Rptr. 3d 743 (2008)
Allison C. was born in March 2001 to her mother and John C. (defendant), who was later determined to be Allison’s biological and presumed father. Allison and her mother lived with John intermittently until John hit the mother while she was holding six-month-old Allison, after which the mother and Allison moved out. John was imprisoned for domestic violence from October 2001 until February 2003. Upon his release, John secretly visited Allison at a relative’s house. Meanwhile, Allison’s stepfather came into her life in early 2003 and established himself as a loving, stable, responsible caregiver. In September 2003, the mother learned of and stopped John’s secret visits. From September 2003 through July 2005, John was incarcerated for burglary. The stepfather and the mother married in February 2005, and the stepfather filed a petition to adopt Allison that spring. A county agency reported to the court that adoption was in Allison’s best interests, though John opposed it. The court issued a restraining order against John to protect Allison and the mother, but the order permitted supervised visits. The mother asked the parole officer to require drug testing before the visits, and the parole officer responded by forbidding the visits. John could have contacted Allison with the parole officer’s permission, but John neither sought permission nor contacted Allison. John was incarcerated from May 2006 through September 2006 for violating his parole. In October 2006, the stepfather petitioned the court to free Allison of John’s custody and control based on abandonment. John was incarcerated again from October 2006 through April 2007 for driving under the influence of alcohol. The trial court granted the stepfather’s petition. The court’s findings included that John abandoned Allison from 2003 through October 2006, that he never provided more than token support, and that adoption was in Allison’s best interests. John appealed, arguing, among other things, that Allison was taken from his care against his wishes because he did not willfully become incarcerated and therefore he did not abandon her.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ikola, J.)
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