In re S.H. and N.W., Minors,
Secreia R., Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,
from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Nos.
17-JA-3 and 17-JA-4 Peoria County, Illinois, Honorable
Katherine S. Gorman Hubler, Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE CARTER delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Schmidt and Wright concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent, Secreia R., appeals, arguing the circuit court
failed to sufficiently articulate a basis for its
determination that respondent was unfit. We affirm.
3 The State filed two petitions for adjudication of wardship
regarding respondent's children, S.H. and N.W. However,
before discussing these petitions, we first discuss the
related petitions that were previously filed regarding
respondent's other children. Those petitions were pending
and ongoing at the time the State filed the wardship
petitions that are the subject of this appeal.
4 The petitions for adjudication of wardship in the related
cases alleged that respondent's other children were
neglected in that they lived in an injurious environment. The
petitions alleged several instances of domestic violence
between respondent and Lance R. (N.W.'s father), which
occurred in the presence of the children. The petitions also
alleged Lance's criminal history including drug
convictions and domestic violence convictions.
5 The adjudicatory order entered in the related cases
reflected that the children were found neglected due to an
injurious environment, and the dispositional order shows that
respondent was found unfit based on the allegations of past
domestic violence and respondent's attitude as to how it
affected the children. Respondent was ordered to obtain a
drug and alcohol assessment, perform two random drug drops
per month, and complete counseling to address several issues,
including choice of partner, relational conflict, and anger.
This cause continued to permanency review hearings and
remained ongoing at the time the State filed the petitions
that are the subject of this appeal.
6 The petitions for adjudication of wardship that are the
subject of this case alleged the same instances of domestic
abuse between respondent and Lance that were alleged in the
already ongoing proceedings in the earlier cases. However,
the petitions in this case involved respondent's two
other children, S.H. and N.W. The petitions in this case
included the additional allegation that respondent was
previously found unfit as to her other children and that
there had been no subsequent finding of fitness in the other
proceedings. The petitions alleged that respondent had not
completed services that would result in a finding of fitness.
Additionally, the new petitions also alleged that respondent
had resumed a relationship with Lance.
7 The circuit court entered temporary shelter care orders.
Subsequently, respondent filed answers to the petitions. In
her answers, respondent admitted to the allegations of her
prior unfitness and the allegations of domestic violence. In
addition, respondent stipulated that the State would call
witnesses who would support the allegation that she failed to
complete the required services to restore her fitness in the
ongoing proceedings in the related case.
8 The cause proceeded to an adjudicatory hearing. At the
hearing, the State informed the court that the petitions in
this case were based primarily on the finding of unfitness in
the related cases that remained pending. The State presented
copies of the orders entered in the related proceedings as
exhibits without objection. The exhibits included the
previous petitions for adjudication of wardship, the
adjudication orders, and the dispositional orders. The State
argued that the only thing the exhibits did not show was
related to the allegation in the present petitions that
respondent had resumed a relationship with Lance. The State
told the circuit court that if the case went to a full
hearing, it would present evidence of communication between
respondent and Lance. The circuit court asked
respondent's counsel for a response to the State's
argument, but counsel declined.
9 Ultimately, the circuit court found the petitions were
proven by the preponderance of the evidence and found that
S.H. and N.W. were neglected. The court continued the cause
for a dispositional hearing, which was scheduled to be heard
at the same time as the permanency review hearing in the
10 At the dispositional hearing in this case (and the
permanency review hearing on the related petitions),
respondent told the court that she went to counseling on a
weekly basis but would return to counseling on a monthly
basis in the future. The dispositional hearing report
indicated that respondent had participated in visitation and
had made progress with her counseling goals. However, the
report stated that respondent did not agree with performing
two random drug drops per month. Respondent indicated that
because she did not have a substance abuse problem, she did
not plan on continuing with the drug drops. According to the
report, respondent completed one drug test (which did not
show the presence of drugs), but respondent failed to
complete the subsequent drug test she was required to
perform. The report ultimately recommended that the circuit
court find the Department of Children and Family Services
(DCFS) made reasonable efforts and that respondent attend
individual counseling, follow recommendations, engage in
visitation, maintain stable housing, cooperate with DCFS,
sign any release of information, and provide two random drug
drops per month.
11 A second dispositional report regarding S.H. included
additional information. According to this dispositional
report, at a child and family team meeting with Shawon,
respondent was unable to keep her composure and ...