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Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Hon. Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., Adoption Judge) (Hon. Ronna Lee Beck, Neglect Judge)

Argued January 11, 2000

These consolidated adoption and neglect cases raise several issues concerning the proceedings held to determine the status of the minor, A.W.K. (1) Did the trial court have jurisdiction over the adoption petition on the basis of the general equitable powers of the court or the role assumed by the Department of Human Services (“DHS”) over the care, custody, or control of A.W.K. pursuant to orders of the trial court, even in the absence of a specific order committing A.W.K. to the custody of DHS? (2) Did the court proceed permissibly in bifurcating the adoption proceeding by conducting first a show cause hearing limited to determining whether the birth parents were withholding their consent to A.W.K.’s adoption contrary to the child’s best interests, and further limiting that hearing to determining the fitness of the birth parents, without concurrent consideration of the suitability of the petitioners in the adoption proceeding? (3) In conducting such a limited show cause hearing, did the adoption judge abuse his discretion by refusing to direct petitioners to answer certain interrogatories about their backgrounds and financial status on the ground that they went beyond the scope of the show cause hearing? (4) Was there clear and convincing evidence to support the adoption judge’s decision that the birth parents were withholding their consent to adoption contrary to A.W.K.’s best interests? (5) Did the neglect judge abuse her discretion in suspending visitation by the then-incarcerated birth parents after the adoption judge ruled that they were unreasonably withholding their consents? We conclude that there is no basis for reversal, and affirm the rulings of the trial court.

 
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