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03/30/88 In Re E.P. Et Al.

March 30, 1988



Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v.

Roy Pluskis, Respondent-Appellant)

521 N.E.2d 603, 167 Ill. App. 3d 534, 118 Ill. Dec. 321 1988.IL.462

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. Rita B. Garman, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. McCULLOUGH and KNECHT, JJ., concur.


On July 22, 1986, following hearings in the circuit court of Vermilion County, the court entered an order terminating the parental rights of respondents Roy and Adrienne Pluskis, the natural parents of the minor children in the four cases consolidated for appeal. The court found (1) respondent Roy Pluskis was an unfit person within the meaning of section 1of "An Act in relation to the adoption of persons . . ." (Adoption Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 1501); and (2) respondent Adrienne Pluskis made an unconditional surrender of her parental rights as to the minors. The court then appointed a guardian for the minors with authority to consent to their adoption. In an order entered March 18, 1987, the court denied respondent's motion to vacate the judgment or in the alternative for a new trial. The court found, inter alia, (1) all the minors were served summons in advance of the termination hearing and the court had jurisdiction over the minors as well as the respondent parents; (2) an order of wardship was not appropriate at the adjudicatory hearing; (3) the termination order was sufficient and made a finding that it was in the minors' best interests that a guardian be appointed; and (4) the respondent father was properly found unfit based on the evidence in the record. Respondent Roy Pluskis appeals the order entered July 22, 1986. We affirm.

On appeal, respondent Roy Pluskis maintains: (1) the trial court did not have jurisdiction to terminate his parental rights, because (a) the court did not have personal jurisdiction of the minors throughout the proceedings, (b) the court failed to adjudicate the minors to be wards of the court, and (c) the court failed to make a finding that it was in the best interests of the minors that a guardian be appointed with authority to consent to adoption; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in allowing hearsay testimony on the issue of parental unfitness; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying respondent's motion to dismiss the termination proceedings based on the State's violation of "An Act to enact the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children . . ." (Interstate Compact Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 23, par. 2601 et seq.); and (4) the trial court's finding of parental unfitness as to the respondent father was not supported by clear and convincing evidence.

A trial court may appoint a guardian with the authority to consent to the adoption of a minor under section 5-9 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 705-9), but the court must first find by clear and convincing evidence that a non-consenting parent is unfit as defined by section 1 of the Adoption Act, which describes an "unfit person" as:

"[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 . . .." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 1501.)

Section 1of the Adoption Act then lists various specific grounds of unfitness. Those alleged here were: (1) the continuous and repeated substantial neglect of the minors; (2) extreme and repeated cruelty to the minors; (3) failure to protect the minors from conditions within their environment injurious to their welfare; (4) other neglect or misconduct toward the minors; and (5) depravity of respondent Roy Pluskis.

The State initially filed petitions for adjudication of wardship of the minors, without requesting a termination of parental rights, on October 9, 1985. Fact sheets attached to each petition alleged in part that the minors were abused and neglected, because (1) the respondents left the State of Illinois with the children in violation of a court order; (2) respondents had no financial resources to provide for the children; (3) the children were not attending school; (4) the respondents were not providing emotional or physical stability or care; and (5) a physical examination of the two older children revealed definite sexual abuse.

Following a temporary shelter care hearing held on October 9, 1985, the court found probable cause existed to show each minor was an abused and/or neglected child. The minors were placed in temporary shelter care, and a temporary guardian was appointed. Respondents failed to appear at the hearing. Notice was mailed to the last known address of respondents and was published in a Vermilion County newspaper. Summons were served on the guardian of the minors. Following an adjudicatory hearing held on November 8, 1985, the court (1) entered a default judgment against the respondent parents; (2) found the minors to be neglected and abused as defined in section 2-4 of the ...

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