Monday, June 08, 2015

A.M. v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. - June 8, 2015)

Ms. S. lives in Weimar, California.  Population: 29.  She's adopted several special needs kids already.  She loves and cares for them.  She's willing to adopt A.M. as well.  Indeed, she very much wants to.  But the social worker doesn't want this placement.

Why not?  Seemingly no good reason.  There's no dispute that Ms. S. does a wonderful job with the children in her care/family.

What about A.M.?  What does he want?

Well, he's eight years old.  So even under normal circumstances, it'd be hard to tell.

But these are not normal circumstances.

A.M. is the product of incest.  He was born when his father/grandfather impregnated his mother.  A fourteen-year old child.  As a result of "parental consanguinity," A.M. is severely disabled.  Even at eight years old, he's already outlived his normal life expectancy.  Here's a summary of his life:

"[A.M. has] “profound mental retardation,” microcephaly, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, spastic quadriplegia, and respiratory insufficiency. He had been hospitalized seven times, usually for breathing difficulties.

He was in a “semi-vegetative state.” He “d[id] not have any purposeful movement.” He could not walk or talk. He could not eat; he required a gastrostomy tube (G-tube). He had to be fed via the G-tube five times a day. He had no bladder or bowel control. He had to be catheterized approximately every four hours.

His vision and hearing were impaired. He “d[id] not respond to visual stimuli and rarely respond[ed] to auditory stimuli.” He had no facial expressions. He did not respond at all to “social interaction.” . . .

A.M. was “completely dependent on caretakers for all of his needs.” He needed “breathing treatments” every six hours. He needed a constant supply of oxygen, and his oxygen levels had to be checked once per shift. He had difficulty maintaining his body temperature, which had to be checked three times per shift. His daily medications included phenobarbital, Keppra, Trileptal, Valium, baclofen, Singulair, albuterol, Pulmicort, Bromocriptine, Robinul, Phos-Nak, Tums, Lactinex, Senokot, MiraLax, and Nutropin. He needed approximately 20 additional medications from time to time. He had to be repositioned every two hours to prevent bedsores."

Ms. S. is nonetheless willing to take on all of these tasks.  More power to her.

The trial court orders placement with Ms. S.  Minor's counsel appeals.  The Court of Appeal affirms.

What's the basis for the opposition to Ms. S.?  Who knows.  There's "speculation" that maybe she just wants to adopt A.M. "for the money".  But I can't fathom that the compensation for adopting a special needs child is anywhere near the level that would justify doing all the tasks for A.M. that are required for his continued survival.  There's "speculation" that maybe Ms. S. was also getting another special needs child around the same time.  IMHO, again, more power to her.  If she's indeed loving and caring -- which everyone seems to say she is -- then that's awesome.  Feel the love.  Something we should encourage, not dismiss.

Is it possible that some people just don't like the fact that Ms. S. is 70 years old?  Could be.  Though I think it's almost certain that Ms. S. will outlive A.M.  Regardless of what shape she's in.  Plus, she has made plans for her own demise.  There's someone who can take care of her kids after.

Enjoy Weimar, A.M.  Enjoy the life you have.

Well done, Ms. S.