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In Re Saadoon





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR N. HAMILTON, Judge, presiding.


Dana Al Saadoon (respondent) was adjudicated an unfit parent for failure to make reasonable efforts or reasonable progress toward return of her minor child to her custody. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 1501(D)(m).) The trial court entered an order appointing a guardian authorized to consent to the adoption of respondent's child. Respondent appeals.

Faleh Al Saadoon, respondent's minor child was born on September 8, 1970. On September 7, 1973, pursuant to a finding of neglect and inability of respondent to care for him, Faleh became a ward of the court. The record shows Faleh had been ingesting various harmful objects such as glass. Respondent was referred to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (Department). On December 1, 1973, respondent filed a petition for return of Faleh to her custody. This petition was denied. In due course Faleh was placed with foster parents.

The Department first petitioned to terminate respondent's parental rights on October 25, 1975. It alleged respondent had failed to make reasonable progress within 24 months to regain the custody of Faleh. The petition was denied.

On March 15, 1978, a second petition was filed by the Department alleging the failure of respondent to make reasonable progress toward return of the child. This petition was granted. Respondent's parental rights were terminated and a guardian was appointed and authorized to consent to Faleh's adoption. Respondent appeals.

At the hearing, Mary Roberts, Department caseworker, testified she was assigned to the case from January 1975 to June 1975. She spoke with respondent several times. On eight occasions, respondent refused to discuss plans for caring for Faleh if he returned, what job or school situation she was in or whether she was receiving treatment. Respondent said these things were irrelevant and none of Roberts' business. Roberts testified it was her opinion respondent had not made reasonable progress in correcting the conditions which led to the removal of her son. Roberts found respondent's apartment neat, clean, adequately furnished and suitable for a child. After several unproductive discussions, Roberts told respondent she was going to transfer the case to the adoption unit of the Department because she believed Faleh needed permanent planning.

After refreshing her recollection on cross-examination, Roberts testified respondent had told her in December 1975 that she was receiving therapy. The caseworker was unable to verify this information because respondent refused to sign a release of confidential information.

Leslie Sollitto, caseworker, was assigned to the case after it was transferred to the adoption unit. She initially prepared the case for the hearing on the first petition to terminate respondent's parental rights, filed October 25, 1975. She met respondent for the first time in January 1976. She testified respondent remained hostile and uncooperative. Respondent told her she was attending a school for beauty operators and was receiving therapy but refused to allow any verification of her school attendance and only allowed the clinic to say she was receiving therapy. Respondent agreed to see a therapist referred to her by the Department. She stopped these visits after one month because she felt the doctor was in an undesirable neighborhood.

Respondent refused to enter into a service contract agreement with the Department. Such an agreement would outline goals to be met by a parent to enable return of children to their custody. Respondent directed threats to the social workers and to Faleh's foster parents in the presence of the child. Respondent's visitations with Faleh were limited and occurred only in the Department offices during this period. This was because of respondent's lack of cooperation, her threats and the upsetting effect of her visits on the child. In Sollitto's opinion, respondent had not made reasonable progress toward the return of the minor to her custody.

In June 1977, caseworker Al Long was assigned to work with respondent. Sollitto continued to work with Faleh and the foster parents. Long presented a service agreement to respondent which contained provisions regarding access by the Department to information concerning the therapy, employment, schooling and medical care of the respondent and her visitation with Faleh. Respondent initially refused to read the agreement. Thereafter, upon reading it, she requested several changes: Faleh was to attend a mosque and was not to eat pork, respondent was to meet the foster parents, respondent was to be involved in Faleh's schooling and therapy, the Department was to contact respondent only through Long or by certified mail, respondent would be excused from work when she did not feel she could attend and respondent would receive weekend visitation with Faleh.

Long testified all of respondent's requested modifications were not accepted by him. He believed some of these conditions were not in Faleh's best interests. Some provisions, regarding the mosque and the eating of pork, had already been implemented. Some of the suggested amendments were accepted. The altered agreement was sent to respondent and was rejected by her. (It is not clear from the record precisely what changes were made in the agreement.)

Respondent provided Long with confirmation that she was attending beauty school, told him she had completed a training program for security guards, allowed him to receive information from her therapist and told him she was doing volunteer work at a hospital. Long allowed respondent to visit Faleh outside of the Department but refused to increase the time allotted for visitation. This was due to respondent's difficulty in controlling the child's behavior. Respondent continually refused to enter into a service contract agreement. Long stated that in his opinion respondent had not made reasonable efforts to correct the conditions which led to the removal of Faleh from her custody.

Respondent testified she had returned to school and completed her elementary and secondary education in 1966. She was then currently attending beauty school and was scheduled to graduate in October 1978.

Respondent refused to sign the service contract because none of her suggested revisions were made and she objected to the existing provisions. She also testified that she was not satisfied with her relationship with Sollitto who had threatened her and had denied a ...

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