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In re D.M.

August 19, 1998

IN THE INTEREST OF D.M., W.M., AND L.L., MINORS, (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
BETTY M., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Homer

IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS THIRD DISTRICT A.D., 1998

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 10th Judicial Circuit Peoria County, Illinois

No. 94--J--346

Honorable Michael Brandt, Judge Presiding

The respondent, Betty M., appeals the trial court's determination that she is an unfit parent and its subsequent decision to terminate her parental rights. We affirm.

FACTS

Betty M. is the biological mother of four children: P.W. born July 1, 1991; D.M. born February 16, 1993; W.M. born July 1, 1994; and L.L. born December 20, 1996. This appeal involves the termination of Betty's parental rights to D.M., W.M., and L.L. Her parental rights to P.W. were terminated in previous proceedings and are not the subject of this appeal.

On September 20, 1994, D.M. and W.M. were adjudicated neglected. 705 ILCS 405/2--3(1)(b), (c) (West 1994). The petition for neglect was based upon the following allegations, which were admitted by Betty: that in 1993, Betty had been found unfit to parent her first child, P.W., she had not been subsequently found fit, and her parental rights to P.W. were terminated; that W.M. was born with cocaine in his system; and that these facts rendered the minors' environment injurious to their welfare.

D.M. and W.M. were subsequently made wards of the court and temporarily placed in foster care. Betty was ordered to undergo inpatient drug treatment and was only permitted contact with the children through visitation supervised by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). In January 1996, the children were placed with William M., their biological father and Betty's estranged husband. While the children resided with William, Betty repeatedly violated the court order prohibiting unsupervised contact with the children.

William died of heart failure on December 21, 1996, while the children were still under his care. Without notice to DCFS, D.M. and W.M. were then moved to Betty's sister's home, where Betty was living at the time, and Betty began having unsupervised contact with the children. Also, on December 20, 1996, Betty gave birth to her fourth child, L.L.

The State filed another petition for neglect against Betty on January 10, 1997. The allegations in the amended petition, which were admitted by Betty, were that: D.M., W.M., and L.L. were neglected; their environment was injurious to their welfare because their mother was found unfit on two separate occasions and there had been no subsequent finding of fitness; and Betty's three-week-old child, L.L., tested positive for cocaine at birth. The children were adjudicated neglected and placed in shelter care and Betty's visitation was suspended.

In a supplemental petition, the State sought termination of Betty's parental rights to all three children. The amended supplemental petition for termination of parental rights, filed on February 5, 1997, alleged that Betty was unfit pursuant to section 1(D)(k) of the Adoption Act in that she was habitually addicted to drugs, other than those prescribed by a physician, for at least one year immediately prior to commencement of these proceedings and that she has given birth to three "cocaine babies." 750 ILCS 50/1(D)(k) (West 1996); 705 ILCS 405/2--13 (West 1996).

The fitness hearing was held on April 23, 1997. The court took judicial notice of three prior petitions for neglect to which Betty had admitted. Also, medical records were admitted into evidence showing that three of Betty's children, P.W., W.M., and L.L., tested positive for cocaine at birth.

Joy Juroff, the DCFS caseworker assigned to this case, testified that on March 20, 1997, she asked Betty to submit to a drug test. Because Betty voluntarily admitted that she had recently ...


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