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PETITION OF H. N. BEGGIANI AND ANN BEGGIANI FOR ADOPTION OF CHILDREN MENTIONED IN PETITION; BONNIE J. PRANTE v. H. N. BEGGIANI AND ANN BEGGIANI (CONSOLIDATED WITH) IN THE INTEREST OF B. L. P. AND C. M. P.

FEBRUARY 03, 1988

PETITION OF H. N. BEGGIANI AND ANN BEGGIANI FOR ADOPTION OF CHILDREN MENTIONED IN PETITION; BONNIE J. PRANTE
v.
H. N. BEGGIANI AND ANN BEGGIANI (CONSOLIDATED WITH) IN THE INTEREST OF B. L. P. AND C. M. P., MINORS; MISSISSIPPI STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, H. N. "BUDDY" AND ANN BEGGIANI v. BONNIE J. PRANTE



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, C.J., PRATHER AND ZUCCARO, JJ.

ZUCCARO, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

The present case represents the consolidation of two (2) appeals that will determine the future of two (2) minors, B.L.P. and C.M.P. Bonnie J. Prante, the maternal grandmother of the children, appeals an April 2, 1987 judgment of the Chancery Court of Hinds County, ordering the adoption of said children by H. N. Beggiani and Ann Beggiani. The State Department of Public Welfare, and the Beggianis, appeal a December 29, 1986 order of the Youth Court of Carroll County granting custody of B.L.P. and C.M.P. to Mrs. Prante. We affirm the decision of the Chancery Court of Hinds County, and reverse that of the Youth Court of Carroll County.

FACTS

 On March 3, 1986, the natural mother of B.L.P. and C.M.P. brought them to the Carrollton office of the Carroll County Welfare Department, stating that she wanted to release the children for adoption. At that time, B.L.P., a female, was twenty-six (26) months old and C.M.P., a male, was fourteen (14) months old. The children showed signs of neglect, and were not in good physical health. As the natural mother further stated that she did not want to take B.L.P. and C.M.P. home with her, the Welfare Department took charge of the children.

 On March 4, 1986, a shelter hearing was conducted in the Youth Court of Carroll County concerning the future of B.L.P. and C.M.P. Pursuant to a petition filed by the Welfare Department, B.L.P. and C.M.P. were placed in the custody of George W. Tuberville, county welfare director, for placement in an appropriate environment pending a hearing set for March 31, 1986. Subsequently, on March 12, 1986, the natural

 mother signed a surrender of parental rights and consent to adoption form.

 On March 31, 1986, the Youth Court held a hearing concerning B.L.P. and C.M.P., and adjudicated them to be neglected children within the meaning of the Youth Court Act. The Youth Court continued custody with the Welfare Department, and ordered that it institute procedures to secure social and personal information on Bonnie J. Prante, the maternal grandmother and a resident of Colorado, from the appropriate Colorado agency, so that the court could determine at a later date if placement of the children with her were feasible.

 The children were placed by the Welfare Department with the Beggiani family in Jackson, Mississippi on April 2, 1986. Placement of B.L.P. and C.M.P. with the Beggianis followed two (2) unsuccessful attempts to find homes for the children, which failed due to the burden presented by caring for two (2) infants. The Beggianis cherished having B.L.P. and C.M.P. in their home, finding them not too much to handle, and on May 13, 1986, they filed a petition for adoption of the children in the Chancery Court of Hinds County. In response to the Beggiani's adoption petition, Mrs. Prante filed on May 29, 1986 a motion to dismiss or alternatively an objection to the adoption and a motion for custody. Subsequently, on July 2, 1986, Mrs. Prante filed a petition for custody of the minor children in the Youth Court of Carroll County, to which the Beggianis filed a motion to dismiss. After due consideration, both courts refused to relinquish jurisdiction of the separate matters.

 A trial before the Youth Court of Carroll County was held in October, 1986 to consider the petition of Mrs. Prante for custody of B.L.P. and C.M.P. Two (2) months later, on December 29, 1986, the Youth Court entered an order granting Mrs. Prante custody of the two (2) children. The children remained in the custody of the Beggianis, who have appealed the Youth Court's decision.

 On March 19, 1987 the adoption petition of the Beggianis was heard by the Chancery Court of Hinds County, which by an opinion dated March 24, 1987, found that the best interest of the children would be promoted by an adoption by the Beggianis. A final judgment of adoption was entered on April 3, 1987, from which Mrs. Prante has appealed.

 I. DID THE CHANCERY COURT OF HINDS COUNTY HAVE JURISDICTION TO HEAR THE ADOPTION ACTION WHEN JURISDICTION CONCERNING THE MINORS HAD

 PREVIOUSLY BEEN ASSUMED BY THE YOUTH COURT OF CARROLL COUNTY?

 Mrs. Prante argues that when the Youth Court of Carroll County entered its shelter order on March 4, 1986 concerning B.L.P. and C.M.P., it obtained exclusive and original jurisdiction of the children through their twentieth birthday. Prante's contention is sounded in 43-21-151 of the Mississippi Code (1972) which provides in pertinent part:

 43-21-151. Jurisdiction.

 (1) The youth court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all proceedings concerning a delinquent child, a child in need of supervision, a neglected child, an abused child or a dependent child.

 (2) Jurisdiction of the child in the cause shall attach at the time of the offense and shall continue thereafter for that offense until the child's twentieth birthday, unless sooner terminated by order of the youth court. The youth court shall not have jurisdiction over offenses committed by a child on or after his eighteenth birthday. (emphasis added)

 As exclusive and original jurisdiction over the children was vested in the Youth Court from and after March 4, 1986 Prante argues, it was improper for the Beggianis to file a petition for adoption in the Chancery Court of Hinds County on May 13, 1986, and for that court to enter a final decree of adoption on April 2, 1987. The Chancery Court of Hinds County had taken and retained jurisdiction ...


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