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In re Tas.C

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

September 30, 2019

In re Tas.C, Ti.C, and Tae.C, Minors
v.
Timothy C, Respondent-Appellant). (The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit Nos. 16-JA-203 16-JA-204 16-JA-205 Honorable David A. Brown, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McDade and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOLDRIDGE, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In March 2019, the trial court found that Tas.C, Ti.C, and Tae.C.'s best interest favored terminating the parental rights of the respondent, Timothy C. The respondent appeals.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 At the outset, we note that the respondent only challenges the trial court's best interest determination. Thus, our background is limited to the facts relevant to that issue.

         ¶ 4 In August 2016, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) filed a petition alleging that the children were neglected in that their environment was injurious to their welfare. The petition alleged that the respondent (1) committed acts of violence against the children's biological mother; (2) had a criminal history that included possession of cannabis (2005), resisting police (2006), failure to return from furlough (2006), possession of a controlled substance (2007), four burglary convictions (2010); and (3) had a pending charge for possession of a controlled substance (2016). Shortly thereafter, in December 2016, the respondent was incarcerated and remained incarcerated during the remainder of these proceedings.

         ¶ 5 In May 2017, the trial court entered an adjudication order, finding that the children were neglected. In July 2017, the court entered a dispositional order, finding the respondent unfit and unable to care for, protect, train, or discipline the children, or unable to do so. Following the State's filing of a petition to terminate the respondent's parental rights, the court found the respondent unfit due to his (1) failure to make reasonable progress toward the return of the children in a nine-month period and (2) depravity.

         ¶ 6 In March 2019, the trial court held a best interest hearing. The best interest report stated that the children had been in foster care for 927 days. Tas. C. was 11 years old. She was in a foster home and her foster parents were committed to adopting her if she was unable to return to her biological parents. The foster parents met all of her needs and planned to allow her to remain connected to her extended biological family following adoption. Tas.C. was bonded and attached to her foster parents. She was involved in their church, enjoyed being involved in church activities, and played basketball after school. Tas.C.'s foster parents showed continuous love and affection for her and met all of her physical, emotional, developmental, and medical needs. She freely went to her foster parents for support, affection, and reassurance. The caseworker observed Tas.C. to be somewhat happy, healthy, confident, and stable in her foster placement.

         ¶ 7 The report indicated that Ti.C. was ten years old and Tae.C. was nine years old at the time of the best interest hearing. They had been in the same long-term foster home for two years and four months. Ti.C. and Tae.C. had a strong bond with their foster parents and all of their needs were being met. They referred to their foster parents as "mom" and "dad" and their foster parents loved them without condition. Ti.C. and Tae.C. were confident that their foster parents would meet their needs. The caseworker observed Ti.C. and Tae.C. to be happy, healthy, confident, and stable in their foster placement. Their foster parents provided them with stability, a sense of security, a sense of belonging, and continuous love and affection. Ti.C. and Tae.C.'s foster parents met all of their physical, emotional, developmental, and medical needs. Ti.C. and Tae.C. would freely go to their foster parents for support, affection, and reassurance. Ti.C and Tae.C.'s foster parents were willing to continue caring for them until they could be matched with a permanent placement. Ti.C. and Tae.C. had strong community ties, attended church with their foster parents, and were involved with basketball and baseball.

         ¶ 8 At the hearing, the respondent stated that he last spoke to Tas.C. a month ago. Tas.C. told him that she was going to start playing basketball, would like for her brothers to come watch her, and wanted to be with her siblings. The respondent also stated that Tas.C. expressed that she did not like how "the people" she was at church with scolded her and talked about her in front of others. The respondent stated it had been about six or seven months since he last spoke to Ti.C. and Tae.C. When he last spoke with them, they stated they were playing either softball or baseball, were doing well, and had no complaints. The respondent stated that he felt he had a good bond with his children and that they loved and respected him. The respondent also stated that he felt that the children should stay together.

         ¶ 9 The respondent stated, prior to going to prison, he would see his children on most weekends. During the summertime, the children would stay weeks at a time. The respondent would take them to the park, barbeques, to get ice cream, and shopping. All three children continued to call him "dad." The respondent stated he was projected to be released from prison in 2021, but with good time credit, he would be released in September 2020. Upon his release, he planned on getting a job and a house. While in prison, he finished a program for custodial maintenance and was going to start a welding program. The respondent stated, that while he finished his prison term, Charmain Childers and Eleanor Brown could care for the children.

         ¶ 10 The respondent explained that he had known Childers for about six years and that she was familiar with the children. Childers was the mother of his paramour. The children had been to Childers' house before and they had meals together. When the respondent was asked if Childers expressed a willingness to take care of his children, he stated that she said, if it came down to it, she would. The children last saw Childers in August 2016. He stated that he would be comfortable if his children were placed with Childers. However, he never gave his caseworker Childers' name as a potential placement option-only Brown's.

         ¶ 11 The respondent stated he gave Brown's address to Howell three to four months ago and gave Nichols the address a couple weeks ago. He did not give any other information other than Brown's name and address. Brown had not seen Ti.C. and Tae.C. since August 2016 and last saw Tas.C. two months ago. We note that it was unclear who Brown was to the respondent. The respondent filed a motion to ...


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