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In Re R.m.b.





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. John R. DeLaMar, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied September 2, 1986.

J.B. gave birth to a daughter, R.M.B., on June 22, 1982. At the time of the birth J.B. was 13 years of age. J.B. and R.M.B. lived with J.B.'s parents in Rantoul, Illinois. A petition was filed in the circuit court of Champaign County on September 7, 1982, alleging that both J.B. and R.M.B. were neglected minors. R.M.B. was found to be a neglected minor, and at a dispositional hearing on March 3, 1983, the trial court ordered custody of R.M.B. placed with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). A supplemental petition was filed with the court on June 25, 1985, asking that J.B. be found to be unfit and that all of her parental rights with respect to R.M.B. be terminated.

Count I of the supplemental petition alleged that J.B. had failed to make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions which were the basis for the removal of the minor from her. Count II alleged that J.B. had failed to make reasonable progress toward the return of the minor within 12 months after an adjudication. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 702-4.) Count III alleged that J.B. was unable to discharge parental responsibilities due to mental impairment or mental illness, mental retardation as defined in section 1-116 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 91 1/2, par. 1-116), or developmental disability as defined in section 1-106 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 91 1/2, par. 1-106). The count also alleged that such inability to discharge parental responsibilities would extend beyond a reasonable time period.

Hearings were held by the trial court on the supplemental petition on August 19, 21, 22, and 23, 1985. At the conclusion of these hearings, the court dismissed count I, but found that the allegations of counts II and III had been proved by clear and convincing evidence, and that J.B. was an unfit parent. The cause was continued to a later date for dispositional hearing; on September 26, 1985, this hearing took place. The trial court terminated all parental rights of J.B. and authorized the guardian to consent to the adoption of R.M.B.

J.B. appeals, contending that: (1) the finding of the trial court that she is an unfit parent is against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) J.B.'s parents were necessary parties to the proceedings.

The facts, although extensive, are not substantially controverted. In January 1982, the Department of Children and Family Services investigated the home where J.B. was living with her parents in Rantoul, Illinois. The original investigation revealed the home to be filthy, cluttered, infested with roaches, with a foul odor, and with only milk and bread in the refrigerator. A visit to the home in February 1982 revealed the same conditions. After J.B. gave birth to R.M.B., the home was even dirtier and more cluttered. Oil, mechanical parts, glass containers, and metal scraps were on the floor.

R.M.B.'s permanent custody was placed with DCFS in March of 1983. Between this time and the time the petition was filed to terminate parental rights in June of 1985, the trailer where J.B. lived with her parents remained cluttered and dirty. Full ashtrays, medication, and other dangerous objects were left where they would be within the reach of a child. The dangerous objects were not removed even after a DCFS worker pointed out the necessity of removal. J.B. had to be told twice, on one occasion when R.M.B. was visiting in the trailer, to remove a pellet gun from her reach.

J.B. was afforded weekly visits with the minor. She treated R.M.B. as if she were a doll on some occasions, and as if they were competing children on other occasions. On some visits, J.B. threatened to beat R.M.B. up; at one point, J.B. made a fist and asked R.M.B. if she wanted to fight. J.B. missed some visits without explanation and often arrived late. J.B. invariably left visitations early, often after spending only 5 or 10 minutes alone with her daughter. On occasion she would lie down and sleep during the visit. A DCFS worker testified that there was no change in J.B.'s relationship with her daughter between 1983 and 1985, and that she had made no progress toward regaining custody of her daughter. The witness said that J.B. was indifferent, never acknowledged what needed to be done for R.M.B. to be returned, denied that anything needed to change, and would not discuss specific steps to take to get her daughter back. J.B. had been given lessons in parenting techniques and skills, but did not appear interested. She never used those skills in dealing with R.M.B., and in fact, appeared to forget them. She likewise did not give any positive guidance to R.M.B.

DCFS at one time wanted to place both J.B. and R.M.B. in a foster home so that J.B. would have the full-time responsibility for caring for R.M.B. while under constant supervision. J.B. refused this arrangement.

Dr. J. Adrian Williams, a psychologist, testified with respect to certain tests and interviews he conducted with J.B. He was of the opinion that J.B. was both mildly mentally retarded and paranoid schizophrenic. He testified with respect to her retardation that she would be able to function at a minimal level of self-sufficiency, but would have serious difficulties discharging parental responsibilities.

Dr. Williams also interpreted the test results and interviews to show that J.B. had difficulty with abstract thinking, had a great deal of hostility and aggressive tendencies, and showed signs of delusions, hallucination, and impairment of reality. She responded to frustration in a physical, aggressive manner. It was Dr. Williams' opinion that the delusional thinking, hostility, and aggression would increase in time. The witness was of the opinion that J.B. did not have the capability to discharge her duties as a parent. This inability would extend beyond a reasonable time. He pointed out that J.B. denied having problems and would require, if she cooperated, medication, three to five years' full-time psychotherapy, including institutional treatment. After that time, J.B. would require periodic treatment for many years.

The allegations of counts II and III of the supplemental petition are based on provisions of the Adoption Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 40, pars. 1501(D)(m), (D)(p).) Those provisions read as follows:

"D. `Unfit person' means any person whom the court shall find to be unfit to have a child, without regard to the likelihood that the child will be placed for adoption, the grounds of such ...

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