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In re O.R.

April 03, 2002

IN RE O.R., A MINOR
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, V. A.R., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 97-JA-133 Honorable Thomas E. Mueller, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

Released for publication May 1, 2002.

IN RE O.R., A MINOR
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, V. A.R., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 97-JA-133 Honorable Thomas E. Mueller, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

PUBLISHED

 Respondent, A.R., appeals the judgment of the circuit court of Kane County finding her to be an unfit parent and terminating her parental rights to her son, O.R. On appeal, respondent contends that section 1(D)(t) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(t) (West 1998)), the statutory provision under which respondent was adjudicated unfit, is unconstitutional as it violates her rights to due process and equal protection. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

The parties do not dispute some basic background facts. O.R. was born with cocaine in his system on December 17, 1997. O.R. is the youngest of seven children born to respondent and is the fifth of respondent's children to test positive for drugs at birth. On December 23, 1997, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship with respect to O.R. Because of various actions by O.R.'s foster parents and paternal grandparents seeking to intervene in the wardship proceedings, a dispositional order was not entered until April 23, 1999. On that date, O.R. was made a ward of the court and placed in the legal custody and guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

On June 7, 1999, the State filed an amended petition to terminate respondent's parental rights. The petition alleged that respondent is unfit to parent O.R. pursuant to section 1(D)(t) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(t)(West 1998)), which identifies the following condition as a ground for unfitness:

"(t) A finding that at birth the child's blood, urine, or meconium contained any amount of a controlled substance as defined in subsection (f) of Section 102 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, or a metabolite of a controlled substance, *** and that the biological mother of this child is the biological mother of at least one other child who was adjudicated neglected under subsection (c) of Section 2--3 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, after which the biological mother had the opportunity to enroll in and participate in a clinically appropriate substance abuse counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation program." 750 ILCS 50/1(D)(t) (West 1998).

Section 2--3(c) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/2--3(c)(West 1998)) generally provides that a newborn infant whose blood, urine, or meconium contains any amount of a controlled substance is neglected.

The petition also alleged that respondent is unfit to parent pursuant to section 1 D(k), which lists as another ground for unfitness the "[h]abitual drunkenness or addiction to drugs *** for at least one year ...


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