Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Harry B. Aron, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected January 13, 1995. Rehearing Denied March 13, 1995. Released for Publication March 21, 1995.
The Honorable Justice Greiman delivered the opinion of the court: Tully, P.j., and Rizzi, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman
JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Respondent appellant Yvonne J. is the birth mother of two minors, seven-year-old A.J. who was born in July 1987, and five-year-old Y.J who was born in June 1989. On appeal, respondent contends that the trial court's termination of her parental rights, in November 1993, based on her unfitness due to mental illness violated her due process rights and discriminated against her as a mentally impaired person. Respondent also challenges the propriety of the trial court's denial of her motion to stay adoption proceedings pending appeal.
We affirm the trial court's orders.
No factual disputes are presented in this appeal. The record establishes that respondent suffers from a mental illness, has never recognized her disorder, has been hospitalized at various times for her psychiatric condition, has accepted some out-patient treatment for her mental illness, has been given many opportunities to avail herself of treatment, counseling and referrals, has never lived with the minors, has never acted appropriately in the presence of the minors and is unfit to bear parental duties. The record further demonstrates that the two children have never lived with respondent but rather have lived together with the same foster family since their respective births and the foster parents wish to adopt them. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) developed and pursued a plan to reunite respondent and the minors for several years prior to the decision to provide long-term foster care for the minors and subsequently to terminate respondent's parental rights. Respondent neither suggests otherwise nor disputes these facts. Instead respondent challenges the State's failure to compel her to receive a particular treatment recommended by one psychiatrist in 1988.
According to respondent, the State should have compelled respondent to receive a particular treatment recommended in 1988 by Dr. Blanchard Reeb, a psychiatrist, before the parental termination proceedings were commenced in 1993. In 1988 Dr. Reeb evaluated respondent and recommended a schedule of injectable medication (Prolixin) to ensure that respondent was getting her medication and getting the proper amount of medication at certain intervals. At no time from 1988 to 1993 did respondent seek or follow such treatment nor did the State force such treatment on her.
Following hearings which began in March 1993, the trial court found that the State proved its case by overwhelming evidence, found respondent unfit based on mental illness grounds and terminated her parental rights on November 2, 1993.
Respondent acknowledges that even if the State had compelled her to receive the treatment recommended in 1988, then she may or may not have achieved satisfactory progress to withstand the termination of her parental rights. However, according to respondent, the State should have been required to implement the recommended treatment before instituting proceedings to terminate her parental rights. Hence respondent now argues that the State's failure to compel her to follow the care advised by Dr. Reeb in 1988 precludes the State from now terminating her parental rights and that such termination now is a denial of her due process rights. Because even the power of the State has limits, we affirm.
The interest of biological parents in the custody of their children is a fundamental liberty interest protected under the fourteenth amendment. In re Enis (1988), 121 Ill. 2d 124, 128-29, 520 N.E.2d 362, 117 Ill. Dec. 201; Regenold v. Baby Fold, Inc. (1977), 68 Ill. 2d 419, 438, 369 N.E.2d 858, 12 Ill. Dec. 151.
Notwithstanding the constitutional protection, a proceeding to involuntarily terminate parental rights may be brought under the Adoption Act, as in the instant case, or the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 37, pars. 802-29, 803-30, 804-27, 805-31 ). "Regardless of under which Act the termination action is brought, the goals of the proceedings are identical: (1) to determine whether the natural parents are unfit, and if so (2) to determine whether adoption will best serve the child's needs." In re M.M. (1993), 156 Ill. 2d 53, 60-61, 619 N.E.2d 702, 189 Ill. Dec. 1; Enis, 121 Ill. 2d at 130 (parental termination procedures are governed by the Adoption Act and the Juvenile Court Act).
A court may terminate a parent's rights where it finds, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the parent is an "unfit person" as defined in the section 1(D) of the Adoption Act (Act). *fn1 Enis, 121 Ill. 2d at 130.
Under this statutory scheme, the Act requires a two-part analysis to determine whether or not a parent is unfit due to a form of mental disability. First, competent evidence from the designated categories of experts must show that the parent suffers from a mental disability which prevents the parent from discharging parental responsibilities. Second, sufficient justification must be established to believe that the inability will extend beyond a reasonable time period. In re J.A.S. (1994), 255 Ill. App. 3d 822, 824, 627 N.E.2d 770, 194 Ill. Dec. 433 (two-part test under the Act); In re K.S.T ...