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In Re Diamond M., A Minor v. Marie M

August 30, 2011


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 10 JA 0686 Honorable Joan Kubalanza, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Connors

JUSTICE CONNORS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Cunningham and Justice Karnezis concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 Following an adjudication hearing, the trial court found that Diamond M. was a neglected minor due to lack of care and an injurious environment and, after a dispositional hearing, made Diamond a ward of the court. Respondent Marie M. appeals the trial court's finding that Diamond was neglected. We affirm.


¶ 3 At the adjudication hearing, the State presented the testimony of Shirley Barsh, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigator assigned to Diamond's case, and introduced into evidence approximately 2,000 pages of Diamond's medical records. Because of the sheer volume of the evidence, we will summarize here only the pertinent facts that were argued by the parties before the trial court.

¶ 4 By all accounts, Diamond was extremely troubled psychologically and emotionally. She was treated over several years at various facilities including St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital, Hartgrove Hospital, and Grand Prairie Services. Respondent adopted Diamond in 2000, when Diamond was about three years old. Diamond had been fostered by respondent before the adoption, and respondent had at least two other adopted children and several other foster children in the home over the years. Significant troubles began in early August 2006, when respondent was first brought to Grand Prairie. Notes from that visit indicated that Diamond was abnormally aggressive and destructive, noting that she had attempted to destroy respondent's "breathing machine"*fn1 and had destroyed other property at home and at school. Diamond apparently indicated at that time that she "wished she were dead." Her risk to herself and other was rated as "moderate" on the staff evaluation.

¶ 5 Later that month, Diamond was admitted to St. Mary's for inpatient psychiatric care, where she remained for treatment for about a week. Notes from that stay indicate that respondent brought Diamond in for treatment because Diamond had been collecting "sharp things" and had been talking to herself. Respondent reported that Diamond had been unusually aggressive and impulsive for years, and respondent related incidents in which Diamond had allegedly attempted to force a doll down another child's throat, had hidden scissors and screwdrivers, and had "mess[ed]" with respondent's insulin. In other notes, Diamond acknowledged that she had an anger management problem, and also indicated that respondent's primary method of discipline was to yell and grab Diamond's face. Diamond was discharged in early September and was prescribed Risperdal, which can be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adolescents. Diamond also received a treatment plan through Grand Prairie.

¶ 6 Through Grand Prairie, a therapist visited Diamond and respondent at their home. Notes from the Grand Prairie treatment attribute a large part of Diamond's problems to respondent's own inconsistency and lack of follow through. Notably, one treatment note stated that, during sessions at home, respondent would begin listing problems that she had with Diamond as if Diamond were not present, and at other times would focus her attention on the television set rather than the therapy. Another treatment note from 2007 indicated that Diamond "appears to test the limits in part due to [respondent's] consistent threats of 'returning [Diamond] back to DCFS.'"

¶ 7 Late in 2007, Diamond was admitted to Hartgrove after respondent discovered a suicide note that Diamond had written. Respondent also reported that Diamond had been cutting herself. Later treatment notes indicated that Diamond had been talking to her socks about suicide and had been eating inappropriate things such as crayons. Diamond was discharged from inpatient care in January 2008, and she was given a prescription for antidepressants.

¶ 8 At some point later, however, Grand Prairie notes indicated that respondent was dissatisfied with the diagnosis of depression and revoked her consent for Diamond's antidepressant prescription. In March 2008, Diamond was again evaluated after she allegedly threatened a teacher and refused to attend school. Outpatient therapy was recommended, and respondent agreed to make therapy appointments. This therapy appeared to help, but in fall 2008 respondent cancelled four sessions. Respondent later refused to continue treatment for Diamond because she did not think that treatment was helping. During this same year, treatment notes indicated that Diamond was acting out sexually, stealing, and engaging in disruptive behavior at home and at school. Other treatment notes near the end of the year indicated that respondent's own behavior was a large part of the problem. According to the notes, respondent overreacted to Diamond's behavior, which would then lead to further problems.

¶ 9 During summer 2009, Diamond participated in a children's community support group, and in November she attended an orientation at Mercy Home, an alternative living facility for troubled adolescents. A note in the record from that time indicated that Diamond was probably a suitable candidate for treatment at Mercy Home, but further stated that "[respondent] was not willing to lose her adoption payments for [Diamond] to temporarily live in Mercy Home." Although the note indicated that Mercy was to follow up with respondent on placing Diamond in the home, there is no indication in the record that this option was explored further.

¶ 10 Matters finally came to a head in May 2010 when an outpatient psychiatric report found that Diamond had been physically aggressive with others at school, had been cutting herself, and had been eating garbage, kitchen cleanser, and dog food. The report recommended hospitalization because of Diamond's depression and risk of harm to herself. The report also noted that respondent had declined follow-up psychiatric services. After her admission, Diamond reported that she was neither suicidal nor homicidal, but did indicate that she wanted to hurt respondent. Respondent indicated that Diamond had unplugged respondent's supplemental oxygen machine and had cut the family dog's tail. During later evaluations, Diamond reported that respondent physically abused her by hitting her with belts, sticks, shoes, and her hands. Diamond also reported that respondent had once starved her for several days, and that respondent's former husband had physically and sexually abused her.

ΒΆ 11 Respondent initially attended Diamond's treatment sessions at Hartgrove, but in midMay she failed to attend a scheduled session. From this point on, notations appear that indicate that respondent was unwilling to take Diamond back into her home following her discharge from Hartgrove. Respondent indicated that she did not feel safe around Diamond. Other notes from this period chronicle Diamond's increasing feelings of isolation from her family, and that Diamond felt that respondent's parenting was Diamond's primary source of stress. A note from May 30, 2010 recounts that Diamond was ...

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