APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon.
ARTHUR N. HAMILTON, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Lutheran Child and Family Services (Lutheran) initially brought this action seeking that Mark Anthony Johnson be adjudged a ward of the court (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, pars. 702-4, 702-5, 704-8) and that a guardian be appointed with the power to consent to his adoption (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 4, par. 9.1-1D(b), (d), (k); ch. 37, par. 705-9). After a hearing, Mark was adjudicated a ward of the court and a guardian appointed for his care and placement. The trial court, however, denied the petition insofar as it requested that such guardian be empowered to consent to Mark's adoption, and it is from this portion of the trial court's order that the State *fn1 appealed. Lutheran was permitted to intervene and has filed a separate brief here.
Mark was born on March 12, 1975, and five days later his mother, Sabrina Johnson, after reading and stating that she understood its terms, executed a final and irrevocable surrender for purposes of adoption in favor of the Cradle Society (Cradle), a licensed child welfare agency. The document was couched in statutory terms (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 4, par. 9.1-10(c)) and was signed in the presence of the hospital's social worker and a social worker of Cradle, Marlene Jackson (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 4, par. 9.1-10(I)). Since March 17, 1975, Mark has been cared for in an adoptive home.
Douglas Rogers, who at all relevant times purports to be Mark's father, learned of his son's birth on March 13, 1975. Sabrina notified Douglas that she and Mark were in Booth Memorial Hospital and encouraged him to visit them. She had included Douglas's name on the visitor's list; however, her mother subsequently removed his name from the list. Sabrina testified that only those who were so listed were allowed to visit. While en route to the hospital, Douglas became lost and telephoned the hospital. Although he was not allowed to testify concerning the name of the person he spoke to or the substance of the conversation, Sabrina testified that he reached her by phone and that she informed him that her mother had removed his name from the visitor's list and that he was no longer allowed to visit her. Douglas then returned home and made no further attempts to visit Sabrina or Mark during their stay at the hospital.
Within two weeks to a month after Mark's birth, Sabrina told Douglas that their child had been placed for adoption and gave him Ms. Jackson's telephone number. In May, he made unsuccessful attempts to contact Ms. Jackson and finally spoke to her by phone on August 12 and told her he sought the return of his son. On August 18, Douglas and his sister met with Ms. Jackson. During this meeting, he announced his intention to contest the adoption and, in response, was given the telephone number of Legal Aid. When he called that number, asking to speak to an attorney regarding his son, he was in turn given the telephone number of another agency. He then called that number several times to no avail.
Prior to or at the time of the execution of the surrender, Cradle had been notified by Sabrina that Douglas was the child's father, and Ms. Jackson testified that she sent two letters to him which were returned undelivered. She made no further attempts to contact him, and the social worker from Lutheran made no effort to do so.
At the time of the hearing, Douglas testified that he was 17 years old; that he was attending high school; and that when he and Sabrina graduated from high school, they intended to marry. He further testified that his failure to visit Mark was the result of rebuffs from hospital personnel and Ms. Jackson.
The trial court adjudicated Mark a ward of the court and appointed Richard Laymon of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DC & FS) as his guardian for care and placement. It was also ordered that Sabrina and Douglas have visitation rights, which they exercised during the period between adjudicatory and dispositional hearings.
• 1, 2 The sole issue presented for review is whether the trial court erred in denying the guardian the power to consent to Mark's adoption. Once a minor has been adjudicated a ward of the court based upon findings that he is neglected or dependent and that wardship would be in the best interests of the minor and the public, the court proceeds to an adjudicatory hearing. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, pars. 704-1, 704-6, 704-8.) If it is determined that placement with his natural parents is not in the best interests of the minor and that he would receive appropriate care with another, the court may decide to place him with the DC&FS for care and placement. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, pars. 705-2, 705-7.) When this is accomplished, the court should then appoint such agency as legal custodian or guardian of the person of the minor (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 705-7), which is defined in another section as follows:
"`Guardianship of the person' of a minor means the duty and authority, subject to residual parental rights and responsibilities, to make important decisions in matters having a permanent effect on the life and development of the minor and to be concerned with his general welfare. It includes but is not necessarily limited to:
(a) the authority to consent to marriage, to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States, or to a major medical, psychiatric, and surgical treatment; to represent the minor in legal actions; and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the minor;
(b) the authority and duty of reasonable visitation, except to the extent that these have been limited by court order;
(c) the rights and responsibilities of legal custody except where legal custody has been vested in ...