APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION
Adoptive Parents of Jonathan Keith Ruiz,
Respondents-Appellees (Pamela Ann Ruiz, Petitioner))
518 N.E.2d 436, 164 Ill. App. 3d 1036, 115 Ill. Dec. 911 1987.IL.1904
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Francis Barth, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE STAMOS delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC, J., concurs. PRESIDING JUSTICE SCARIANO, specially Concurring.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STAMOS
Amy and Charles Ruiz, the petitioners-appellants and maternal grandparents of Jonathan Keith Ruiz (Jonathan), appeal from the trial court's denial of their motion for leave to file a petition for the adoption of Jonathan and their motion to consolidate their adoption action with, or to intervene in, the action filed by the respondents to adopt Jonathan. Jonathan's mother and petitioners' daughter, Pamela Ruiz (Pamela), surrendered Jonathan for adoption. Shortly thereafter, the respondents filed a petition to adopt Jonathan. The respondents have declined to reveal their identities. The appellate court, however, concurs with the trial court's decision to preserve the anonymity of the respondents. The petitioners subsequently discovered that Jonathan was placed for adoption and that the respondents had filed a petition to adopt Jonathan. The petitioners moved the trial court for leave to file a petition for the adoption of Jonathan and to consolidate their adoption action with, or to intervene in, the action that the respondents had filed. The trial court denied the petitioners' motions and the petitioners appealed.
On May 19, 1986, 19-year-old Pamela gave birth to Jonathan. Pamela and Jonathan lived with the petitioners from the date of Jonathan's birth until sometime in February 1987. On February 18, 1987, Pamela signed a final and irrevocable consent for the adoption of Jonathan. When the court asked Pamela why she was giving Jonathan up for adoption, she answered: "Because I'm too young; I can't give him what he wants. My boyfriend left me. If he goes to another family, he will have a father. I just can't handle him by myself. I'm too young."
The petitioners were unaware that Pamela had gone to court on February 18 to surrender Jonathan for adoption. Pamela stated that she did not tell her parents (petitioners) because Pamela's mother would not have allowed Pamela to place Jonathan for adoption even though Pamela believed that it was the right thing to do. After Pamela placed Jonathan for adoption, she planned to move to Arizona and live there with a friend.
A couple, unknown to the petitioners, filed a petition to adopt Jonathan. The adoptive parents-respondents are represented by counsel in this litigation. The petitioners claim that they did not become aware that Jonathan had been placed for adoption until late March 1987. At this time, the petitioners retained counsel. The petitioners filed a petition and in count II sought visitation with Jonathan. In count I of that same petition, Pamela moved to vacate her surrender and consent and the interim order. On June 4, 1987, the respondents filed a motion for summary judgment. Motion for summary judgment was granted as to count I on July 20; the petitioners moved for the voluntary dismissal of count II and it was granted on July 21.
Thereafter, the petitioners retained new counsel. On June 30, 1987, the petitioners' new counsel filed a petition to adopt Jonathan. On July 20, 1987, the petitioners moved to consolidate their petition for adoption with the action to adopt Jonathan filed by the adoptive parents or, in the alternative, to allow the petitioners to intervene in that action. On July 20, 1987, the trial court entered an order denying the petitioners' motions. On July 22, 1987, the petitioners filed notice of this appeal.
The first issue is whether the petitioners-grandparents may file a petition for the adoption of Jonathan. Illinois law provides the answer to this question. In pertinent part, section 5 of the Adoption Act states:
"A proceeding to adopt a child, other than a related child, shall be commenced by the filing of a petition within 30 days after such child has become available for adoption, provided that such petition may be filed at a later date by leave of court upon a showing that the failure to file such petition within such 30 day period was not due to the petitioners' culpable negligence or their wilful disregard of the provisions of this Section. A petition to adopt an adult or a related child may be filed at any time. A ...