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In Re Love

OPINION FILED AUGUST 2, 1977.

IN RE TINA LOVE ET AL., MINORS. — (THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

DAVID LOVE ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. MICHAEL LYONS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of Will County which found David Love and Deborah Love, the respondents, to be unfit parents of the minor children Tina Love and Anthony Love. The trial court's order further authorized a guardian to consent to the adoption of the two children, namely, Tina and Anthony.

The underlying facts from which appeal stems are as follows. The respondents were married in November 1972, at which time David was 19 years old and Deborah was 20 years old. From this marriage the child Tina Marie was born on July 25, 1973, the child Anthony Michael was born on August 1, 1974, and Baby Boy (James) Love on October 6, 1975.

On November 3, 1974, the respondent David returning home from work found his son Anthony with an enlarged and inflated stomach, so he and the child Tina were taken to the hospital in Joliet. The child Anthony was admitted for malnutrition, dehydration and severe diaper rash. Hospital personnel called the Will County Sheriff and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, hereinafter referred to as the Department. The Department took custody of both the children and on November 4, 1974, had a petition filed in court which charged that the minors Anthony and Tina were neglected pursuant to the provisions of the Juvenile Court Act. After an adjudicatory hearing the trial court on March 26, 1975, found the children to be neglected and ordered that they be wards of the court with the Department as their guardian.

After the respondents had lost custody of their children they arranged for periodic visitation rights with them and also received therapeutic and diagnostic counseling from the Will County Mental Health Clinic. The respondents also attended meetings of a group known as Parents Anonymous, which is a private organization comprised of child-abusing parents. The respondent father lost his employment for a period of time and he and his wife were compelled to live in a number of different locations.

At the time the children Anthony and Tina were made wards of the court their mother, the respondent Deborah, was pregnant. She gave birth to a third child, Baby Boy Love (to be named James Antonio Love) on October 6, 1975. On the day following the birth the Department caused a supplemental petition to be filed, without service of process on any of the parties, in which it alleged that the child James was also neglected and should be made a ward of the court. An emergency order for temporary guardianship was signed by the trial court on October 7, 1975, and subsequently the trial court refused to release the child James from custody of the Department when the issue of lack of jurisdiction was raised.

The Department prior to the birth of the child James filed a supplemental petition in which it was prayed that as to the minors Anthony and Tina the respondents be declared unfit parents and that a guardian with the right to consent to their adoption be appointed. This supplemental petition was later amended to include the recently born child James. Pursuant to a bill of particulars requested by the respondents, the grounds for unfitness asserted under the Adoption Act were (a) failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the minors' welfare, (b) substantial, continuous and repeated neglect of the minors, and (c) other neglect of or misconduct toward the minors.

Hearing on the supplemental petition was had on November 19 and 20, 1975, and the following testimony was adduced.

Sergeant Peter Haas of the Will County sheriff's office, testified that he interviewed the respondents on the night the children Anthony and Tina were taken from them. The respondent father informed him that he usually arrived home from work at 6:30 in the evening and departed at 6 a.m. the following morning and that during this span of time the children were never fed by him or his wife. The respondent mother informed the officer that she did not feed the children because sometimes there was no food available, that she did not like to feed them and that on other occasions she withheld food from the children as a mode of punishment.

Sister Jane Janthor, a caseworker with the Department, testified that the children were in "fair condition" when she had her first contact with them in December 1974, that she saw the respondent parents at supervised visits with the children on many occasions, and that the visits were as frequent as once a week. She further testified that the respondent mother informed her that her husband at various times had physically abused the children and in fact, the respondent father did not really care about the children or want them back.

It was the testimony of the Sister that the mother was unable to feed the child Anthony and in spite of the many visits between the children and their parents a normal and calm relationship never developed between them as is the usual case, even when children had been abused by their parents.

The Sister stated that the Department has available a homemaker program, where a third party would be placed in a home for the purpose of instructing and assisting parents in the housekeeping, cooking and child care, but that this program was not tried since it was the opinion of the Department that it would be of no benefit to the respondents.

The testimony of Dr. Lawrence Egel of the Will County Mental Health Clinic was as follows. He saw the respondents when they were referred to him by the Department and they both received psychological testing. The examination of the respondent father indicated that he had a below normal I.Q. of less than 85 and a personality that was highly paranoid. The examination of the respondent mother disclosed an I.Q. on the low end of a borderline range that is indicative of some mental retardation. It was the further testimony of Dr. Egel that based upon his examinations he did not believe that the respondents would be able to adequately and sufficiently perform the functions of parenthood and that there was no program of rehabilitation available anywhere in the country that could bring the respondents to the point of properly performing the roles of parenthood.

Michael Tymowicz, a social worker for the Will County Mental Health Clinic, testified that he counseled with the respondents on a number of occasions but they were guarded and tended to isolate themselves and therefore little was accomplished. He stated that he observed no improvement or change of ...


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