This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Child of: P.B.
and S.B., Parents.
Filed January 9, 2006
Anoka County District Court
File No. J0-05-50173
Jeffrey J. Storey,
Mark D. Fiddler, Fiddler Law
Wright S. Walling, Sherri D. Hawley, Walling, Berg & Debele, P.A., 121 South Eighth Street, Suite 1100, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for amicus curiae North American Council on Adoptable Children)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal, appellants challenge an order requiring them to contribute to the cost of their child’s out-of-home placement. Appellants argue that (1) the guardian ad litem lacked standing to request parental contribution to the cost of their child’s out-of-home placement and (2) the district court erred by not applying the parental-contribution exception found in Minn. Stat. § 252.27, subd. 2a (2004). Because we conclude that section 252.27, subdivision 2a, applies, we reverse.
In 2001, appellants P.B. and S.B. (parents) adopted T.A.B. after providing her with foster care for 15 months. Parents received an adoption subsidy because T.A.B. has brittle-bone disease and her family history of abuse places her at high risk of developing other disabilities. T.A.B. was later diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, clinical depression/dysthymia, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a potential personality disorder.
the next three years, parents had difficulty bonding with T.A.B. She had violent episodes and threatened to
kill parents and herself several times.
Parents had to call the police to control T.A.B., and in May and
November 2004, T.A.B. was committed to the psychiatric ward at
The district court denied parents’
petition, citing their failure to show good cause for the termination.
Parents objected to the imposition of a parental contribution to the costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement. They argued that Minn. Stat. § 252.27, subd. 2a (2004), exempts them from the contribution requirements in section 260C.331. The district court found that parents have the ability to contribute, and because it concluded that “[t]he provisions of Minn. Stat. § 252.27 are not applicable when placement is court-ordered,” it ordered parents to contribute to the costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement.
After parents filed a motion for amended findings of facts and conclusions of law, the district court issued an amended order finding that parents failed to demonstrate that T.A.B. falls within the provisions of section 252.27. The district court incorporated its findings and conclusions from its previous order and again required parents to contribute to the costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
first argue that the GAL did not have standing to request that parents
contribute to the costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement. Challenges to standing are questions of law,
which this court reviews de novo. Rukavina v. Pawlenty, 684 N.W.2d 525,
531 (Minn. App. 2004), review denied
Standing is the requirement that a
litigant have a sufficient stake in the controversy to seek relief from the
court. State by Humphrey v. Philip Morris Inc., 551 N.W.2d 490, 493 (
ad litem are parties to juvenile-protection proceedings.
the GAL requested that the district court order parents to contribute to the
costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement.
Parents argue that the GAL lacks standing to request parental
contribution because T.A.B.’s interests are not affected by a determination of
parental contribution. The GAL argues
that public funding might not cover T.A.B.’s costs in the future and that it
is, therefore, in T.A.B.’s interests to request that parents be required to
contribute. We agree. Moreover, standing “focuses on the party . . .not on the
issues.” Sundberg,423 N.W.2d at 688 (quoting Flast, 392
next argue that Minn. Stat. § 252.27 (2004) exempts them from the parental-contribution
requirement in Minn. Stat. § 260C.331 (2004).
Interpretation of a statute is a question of law, which we review de
novo. Nash v. Wollan, 656 N.W.2d 585, 589 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (
a court orders a child into the custody of a social-services agency, the costs
of the placement are “charge[d] upon the welfare funds of the county in which
proceedings are held.”
When a child “who has mental
retardation or a related condition, or a physical disability or emotional
disturbance is in 24-hour care outside the home including respite care, in a
facility licensed by the commissioner of human services, the cost of services
shall be paid by the county.”
Parents argue that because T.A.B. is emotionally disturbed and her adoption is subsidized under section 259.67, the district court erred by not applying the contribution exemption in section 252.27. The GAL does not argue that section 252.27 does not apply to the costs of foster care and concedes that if T.A.B. has a qualifying condition, section 252.27 exempts parents from contributing to the costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement.
district court first ruled that section 252.27 does not apply because T.A.B.’s
out-of-home placement was court-ordered.
The plain language of section 252.27 exempts parents who receive an
adoption subsidy from contributing to the costs of 24-hour care outside the
home for a child with a qualifying condition.
In its second order, the district court concluded that section 252.27 does not apply because parents failed to establish that T.A.B. has a qualifying emotional disturbance or physical disability. Although section 252.27 does not define “emotional disturbance” or “physical disability,” when administering section 252.27, the department of human services uses the definition of “emotional disturbance” in section 254.4871, subdivision 15. See Minn. R. 9550.6210, subp. 8 (2003) (providing that “‘emotional disturbance’ has the meaning given it in Minnesota Statutes, section 245.4871, subdivision 15”). “Emotional disturbance,” therefore, as used in section 252.27, is
an organic disorder of the brain or a clinically significant disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, memory, or behavior that:
(1) is listed in the clinical manual of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9-CM), current edition, code range 290.0 to 302.99 or 306.0 to 316.0 or the corresponding code in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-MD), current edition, Axes I, II, or III; and
(2) seriously limits a child’s capacity to function in primary aspects of daily living such as personal relations, living arrangements, work, school, and recreation.
The record shows that T.A.B. has reactive attachment disorder, clinical depression/dysthymia, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a potential personality disorder. The GAL concedes that these diagnoses are listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but he argues that parents failed to show that T.A.B.’s disorders “‘seriously limit’ her ‘capacity to function in primary aspects of daily living such as personal relations, living arrangements, work, school, and recreation.’”
But the record shows that because of T.A.B.’s disorders, she has had violent outbursts, has threatened to kill herself and others, and was twice placed in a psychiatric ward. T.A.B.’s disorders were the basis of parents’ petition to terminate their parental rights and the county’s CHIPS petition. T.A.B.’s disorders have seriously limited her ability to function in her family, home, and other primary aspects of daily living. We conclude that the district court’s finding that parents failed to demonstrate that T.A.B. suffers from an emotional disturbance as defined in section 245.4871, subdivision 15, is clearly erroneous.
Because the parental-contribution exemption in Minn. Stat. § 252.27, subd. 2a, applies when a qualifying child is placed in 24-hour care outside of the home and because T.A.B. qualifies under section 252.27, subdivision 2a, we reverse the district court’s order requiring parents to contribute to the costs of T.A.B.’s out-of-home placement.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.