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In re J.B.

January 22, 2004

[5] IN RE J.B. AND D.B., MINORS
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
LACINA B. AND ALBERT B., RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS).



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Rena Marie Van Tine, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Quinn

[8]  Following a best interest hearing, the circuit court found respondents, Lacina B. and Albert B., to be unfit parents and terminated the parental rights to their children, J.B. (born August 4, 1997) and D.B. (born September 8, 1999). The court also held that it would be in the children's best interest that a guardian with the right to consent to their adoption be appointed. The court based its findings upon clear and convincing evidence which established that respondents were unfit pursuant to section 2-29 (705 ILCS 405/2-29 (West 2002) (section 2-29)) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) and section 1(D)(q) (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(q) (West 2002)) of the Adoption Act. Respondents appeal, contending that the court erred by finding that termination of their parental rights was in the children's best interest. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.

[9]  BACKGROUND

[10]   On April 24, 1998, J.B. was placed into protective custody after a medical examination of one of her siblings, Chantise, revealed that she sustained abrasions on her forehead and jaw and eight separate fractures of her hand and leg. Both respondents were charged criminally with aggravated battery of a child. Following a temporary custody hearing on April 28, 1998, the circuit court found probable cause that J.B. was abused and neglected and that it was a matter of immediate and urgent necessity to remove her from respondents' care pending an adjudicatory hearing. The court granted temporary custody of J.B. to the guardianship administrator of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

[11]   On February 1, 1999, the circuit court found that J.B. was neglected and abused due to an injurious environment and substantial risk of physical injury in violation of sections 2-3(1)(b) (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West 2002)) and 2-3(2)(ii) (705 ILCS 405/2-3(2)(ii) (West 2002)) of the Act.

[12]   On September 24, 1999, the State filed petitions for adjudication of wardship for both children. On the same date, the circuit court found that D.B. was neglected and abused and granted temporary custody of D.B. to DCFS. The court entered a second adjudication order for J.B. reflecting the same findings as the February 1, 1999, order.

[13]   Following a dispositional hearing on January 5, 2000, the circuit court adjudicated J.B. as a ward of the court and ruled that respondents were unable and unfit to care for her. The court appointed DCFS as her guardian.

[14]   An April 25, 2000 adjudicatory hearing resulted in a circuit court finding that D.B. was abused due to substantial risk of physical injury in violation of section 2-3(2)(ii) of the Act.

[15]   On June 5, 2000, following a dispositional hearing, the circuit court found that respondents were unable to care for D.B. and appointed DCFS as his guardian. The court also conducted a permanency hearing for J.B., which resulted in a permanency goal of return home pending status hearing.

[16]   Following a January 8, 2002, permanency hearing, the circuit court entered permanency orders for both children, which set goals of termination of parental rights because respondents failed to make reasonable or substantial progress towards reunification.

[17]   On May 6, 2002, the State filed supplemental petitions for appointment of a guardian with right to consent to adoption for both children and sought termination of respondents' parental rights. The petitions alleged that respondents were unfit because of their failure to: (1) maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to their children's welfare in violation of section 1(D)(b) (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(b) (West 2002)) of the Adoption Act and section 2-29 of the Act; (2) make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions that were the basis for the removal of the children within nine months after the adjudication or any nine-month period in violation of section 1(D)(m) (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(m) (West 2002)) of the Adoption Act; and (3) make reasonable progress toward the return of the children within nine months after adjudication or any nine-month period in violation of section 1(D)(m) of the Adoption Act and section 2-29 of the Act. In addition, the petition alleged that respondents were unfit under section 1(D)(q) of the Adoption Act and section 2-29 of the Act due to their criminal convictions for aggravated battery to a child.

[18]   On November 8, 2002, the circuit court granted the State's motion for summary judgment, finding respondents unfit pursuant to section 1(D)(q) of the Adoption Act and section 2-29 of the Act. The State withdrew all the remaining counts in the petition.

[19]   On January 10, 2003, following a best interest hearing, the circuit court found termination of respondents' parental rights was in the best ...


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