A Prayer for Nunu Sung: “May They Do The Right Thing.”

Nunu Sung with her son, Joshua.

Well, Dear Reader, this is the last in my series of articles on Nunu Sung … for now.

Thank you for following Nunu’s story. Since the start of this series a few weeks ago my blog has received close to 2,000 hits. This reveals two things: (1) Nunu’s story is being shared and having an impact, and (2) there is a genuine interest among followers in the outcome of this case in seeing Nunu reunited with Joshua.

On Wednesday, October 19, Judge Charles Stanley Austin will rule whether to terminate Nunu’s parental rights—an act I believe violates the terms of Nunu’s Plea Agreement. I plan to attend in support of Nunu. I will share the outcome.

I often ask myself “How can this be happening?” For the life of me I cannot understand why, when Nunu consistently demonstrated an exemplary record of proven devotion to Joshua and fulfillment of service plan requirements, the court, Judge C. Stanley Austin in particular, is reticent to reunite her with her son.

As I learn more and more about her situation, I have developed a few theories.

(1) Evangelical Child and Family Agency is Forced to Close Foster Care Program.

Earlier this year the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (IRFPCUA) passed in Congress and was signed into law by Governor Quinn. What does this law have to do with Nunu’s case? Well, I will tell you. A sub-component of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act prohibits foster care and adoption agencies from excluding gay couples from the adoption candidates.

As a Christian organization ECFA retains the right to deny applications from non-evangelical, non-heterosexual couples, however to do so means to forfeit their Foster Care Program.

In September of 2011, Evangelical Child and Family Agency announced the closing of their foster care program since IL DCFS did not renew their contract due to ECFA’s failure to comply with some of the stipulations of the IRFPCUA (mainly refusal to place foster children with non-evangelical, non-heterosexual families, per the values expressed in their mission statement).

The result: What this means for ECFA is that we will be required to transfer all of our DCFS foster care cases to other agencies.” My speculation … this includes Nunu’s son, Joshua, placed by ECFA with a foster family shortly after his birth.

I imagine, with the passing of the “Civil Unions Act” in early 2011, agencies like ECFA saw the writing on the wall. I suspect that agencies like ECFA communicated changes coming down the pike to foster families. With roughly half a year left in her sentence the foster family delivered an unconscionable blow to Nunu Sung. In Spring of 2011, Nunu received a letter from the foster family stating their intention to begin proceedings to adopt Joshua. I believe this action to be a direct result of the foreknowledge that ECFA was in jeopardy of losing their foster care program within the year.

The conclusion I draw: rather than lose Joshua to another agency in compliance with the Civil Unions Act, I believe both ECFA and the foster family saw the opportunity to adopt Joshua using the Civil Unions Act as a crutch. This action is in direct violation of Nunu’s plea agreement (for it is predicated on the termination of her parental rights) and incongruent with ECFA’s commitment to provide temporary housing for Joshua until the time of reunification with his mother.

In a post dated July 2011, ECFA caseworker Michelle shares how working with birth parents gives her hope. She writes,

“There’s a stigma when it comes to birth parents who are involved with Department of Child & Family Services (a.k.a. DCFS).

This stigma often portrays these parents as inherently “bad.” This stereotype makes me sad. Each and every person that God created has unsurpassed worth because of Christ’s sacrifice for all of humanity. Everyone makes mistakes, and our mistakes affect other people in various ways. The truth is, many of the birth parents I work with truly love their children … Entering into the lives of birth parents has reminded me time and time again of what a broken world we live in, and just how much our choices affect those around us.

Along with this brokenness, though, I have seen the incredible resilience and determination and self-sacrifice that can only be mustered by the love of a parent for his or her child.

That, in turn, gives me incredible hope.”

My challenge to the Evangelical Child and Family Agency:  match your actions with your heart. If your commitment is to birth parents, even those who make mistakes, why are you denying that same commitment to Nunu Sung? It is not too late. The course can be changed. There is time to do the right thing.

(2) Judge Charles Stanley Austin Reveals Bias against Nunu Sung

It is no secret that Judge Austin has communicated bias from-the-bench against Nunu Sung for months now. He has even  stated “the goal of these proceedings should no longer be to reunite mother with child.” My concern surrounding Judge Austin is twofold: his subjectivity and his refusal to honor the arrangements of Nunu Sung’s Plea Agreement in Juvenile Court.

In an article dated August 30, 2011, “DuPage Judge C. Stanley Austin again denied a [second] request by Sung’s attorneys to dismiss the petition [to terminate parental rights]. Austin … previously ruled the goal of the proceedings should no longer be to reunite the biological mother with her child.” Judge Austin’s decision to entertain the motion to terminate Sung’s parental rights formalized two months after he conveyed from-the-bench “the goal of the civil proceedings should no longer be to reunite mother and child. Rather, it should be to place the child in substitute care pending termination of Sung’s parental rights.”

The questions I ask: how can Nunu Sung receive a fair, objective ruling when Judge Austin has clearly declared his intention to terminate her parental rights?

If the goal of Sung’s proceedings is to reunite mother and child, why is Judge Austin standing in the way? If one of the conditions of Nunu’s Plea Deal is that opposing parties would not seek to terminate her parental rights, why is Judge Austin entertaining this petition? If the desired outcome of this case is to see clear signs of a life changed for the better, of a bond formed between mother and child, of a young woman demonstrating the ability to care for, love, and provide for her son, then this case is a success! In all her efforts over the past few years, Nunu Sung acted in accordance with DCFS requirements, developed a loving bond with her son, and demonstrated the ability to care for him. She continues to live each day for Joshua. Why is Judge Austin willing to deny this mother the right to be with her son?

Judge Austin’s ruling will determine the fate of Nunu Sung’s two year fight to gain custody of her son. If Austin rules to terminate, Nunu will lose her son. Period. I can’t even begin to imagine the chasm torn in Nunu’s heart if that happens. I hope and pray  that Judge Austin makes the right decision for Nunu and for Joshua. I hope and pray for this dedicated mother working diligently to gain custody of her son that Judge Austin denies the petition to terminate parental rights.

My challenge to Judge Austin: Look at the facts, remove bias, rule with fairness and integrity. It is not too late to do the right thing.

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5 comments

  1. I am praying that this judge does the right thing not only for Nunu but for Joshua.What will happen when Joshua is old enough to ask about his mom? What will these foster parents say? Your mom was willing to go to jail for you because of how much she loves you, but we took you away from her for good? This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach to think that a child is being ripped away from his mom and might live with these “strangers” for the rest of his childhood. A Plea Agreement is just that…. An agreement between all involved. Nunu was told that her parental rights would not be taken from her and now they are going back on their “Agreement”. Do what is best for Joshua and keep him with his mom, NuNu Sung!!

    1. Tina,

      Thank you for taking the time to read about Nunu’s story and battle to keep custody of her son. Please continue to share her story with others. Publicity and pressure on the judge and prosecution team are the best avenues to support her efforts.

      It is certainly heartbreaking to watch this case unfold. Nunu truly loves her son and has gone to great lengths to prove so. The resistance from Judge Austin and the prosecution team is disheartening.

      ~Susan

  2. Praying for the Judge to give the only right decision to not take away parental rights from a mother who is even willing to be in prison for the right to be with her child again.

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