APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT
Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v.
Everett E. Welch et al., Respondents-Appellants)
517 N.E.2d 622, 164 Ill. App. 3d 142, 115 Ill. Dec. 211 1987.IL.1800
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County; the Hon. David L. Underwood, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court. KARNS, P.J., and WELCH, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HARRISON
Respondents, Everett E. Welch and Connie Welch, appeal from an order of the circuit court of Jefferson County terminating their parental rights and appointing for the children a guardian with power to consent to adoption. Respondents contend the court had no authority to enter such an order because no petition for adoption had previously been filed. We affirm.
Connie Welch is the natural mother of the 10 minor children involved in these proceedings. Everett Welch is the natural father of several of these children. On November 14, 1984, the Department of Children and Family Services (hereinafter the Department) filed a petition alleging the children were neglected. After a hearing on this petition, the circuit court on February 19, 1985, found the children were neglected and awarded temporary guardianship and custody to the Department. After another hearing held on March 20, 1985, the court adjudicated the children wards of the court and granted custody and guardianship to the Department. On March 25, 1986, the Department filed a supplemental petition alleging that respondents were unfit, and requesting that the parental rights of respondents be terminated and that the Department be appointed guardian of the minors with power to consent to their adoption. A hearing on this supplemental petition was held on July 2, 1986, after which the court found respondents to be unfit, terminated their parental rights, and appointed the Department as guardian with power to consent to adoption.
Respondents do not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence presented on the question of their fitness. Their sole argument on appeal is that the court did not have authority to terminate their parental rights or to appoint a guardian with power to consent to adoption because no petition for adoption had previously been filed.
The trial court entered its order terminating parental rights and empowering the Department to consent to adoption pursuant to section 5-9 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.), which provides:
"(1) A ward of the court under this Act, with the consent of the court, may be the subject of a petition for adoption under 'An Act in relation to the adoption of persons, and to repeal an Act therein named', approved July 17, 1959, as amended, or with like consent his or her parent or parents may, in the manner required by such Act, surrender him or her for adoption to an agency legally authorized or licensed to place children for adoption.
(2) If the petition prays and the court finds that it is in the best interests of the minor that a guardian of the person be appointed and authorized to consent to the adoption of the minor, the court with the consent of the parents, if living, or after finding, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that a non-consenting parent is an unfit person as defined in Section 1 of "An Act in relation to the adoption of persons, and to repeal an Act therein named", approved July 17, 1959, as amended, may empower the guardian of the person of the minor, in the order appointing him or her as such guardian, to appear in court where any proceedings for the adoption of the minor may at any time be pending and to consent to the adoption. Such consent is sufficient to authorize the court in the adoption proceedings to enter a proper order or judgment of adoption without further notice to, or consent by, the parents of the minor. An order so empowering the guardian to consent to adoption terminates parental rights, deprives the parents of the minor of all legal rights as respects the minor and relieves them of all parental responsibility for him or her, and frees the minor from all obligations of maintenance and obedience to his or her natural parents.
If the minor is over 14 years of age, the court may, in its discretion, consider the wishes of the minor in determining whether the best interests of the minor would be promoted by the ...